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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 43 min 7 sec ago

Links 2/12/2017: Linux Mint KDE and End of Linux Journal

Saturday 2nd of December 2017 10:33:10 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux Journal Ceases Publication

    It looks like we’re at the end, folks. If all goes according to a plan we’d rather not have, the November issue of Linux Journal was our last.

    The simple fact is that we’ve run out of money, and options along with it. We never had a wealthy corporate parent or deep pockets of our own, and that made us an anomaly among publishers, from start to finish. While we got to be good at flying close to the ground for a long time, we lost what little elevation we had in November, when the scale finally tipped irrevocably to the negative.

  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Bash
  • Houston-based Linux Journal ceasing publication

    In a letter posted to the Linux Journal website and Facebook page, Publisher Carlie Fairchild said the magazine had run out of money and the November issue would be its last:

    The simple fact is that we’ve run out of money, and options along with it. We never had a wealthy corporate parent or deep pockets of our own, and that made us an anomaly among publishers, from start to finish. While we got to be good at flying close to the ground for a long time, we lost what little elevation we had in November, when the scale finally tipped irrevocably to the negative.

  • Years and Years of Linux Journal…

    I remember early on (1996?) they were based in Seattle… and it just so happened that my family and I would periodically visit Seattle for days and sometimes weeks at a time because my first son was born with kidney problems and the Seattle Children’s Hospital was his regional pediatric care facility. Staying in Seattle for periods of time you look for stuff to do… and I decided to find their offices and pay them a visit. In those days it wasn’t too far from the University district. On my first visit I was able to buy most all of the back issues that came out before I was a subscriber going back to issue #2. They had long sold out of issue #1 (dated March 1994) as it obviously had the lowest print run anyway… so I never actually saw a physical issue #1… but I saw all of the rest of them. I believe I visited their Seattle office at least 3 times. They had tee-shirts and various other branded items one could buy. I do remember getting one or two tee-shirts.

  • Desktop
    • System76 is disabling Intel’s flawed Management Engine on its Linux laptops

      LINUX PC FLOGGER System76 has announced that it’ll be disabling Intel’s flawed Management Engine on all its laptops.

      Earlier this month, Intel posted a security advisory warning manufacturers and users of its Management Engine of a number of firmware-level vulnerabilities and bugs found, which were also present in its Server Platform Services and the Trusted Execution Engine.

    • System76 Continues Refining Their Pop!_OS

      Besides working on disabling ME in all their laptops, the System76 team has also been busy working on their new Ubuntu-derived Pop!_OS operating system.

    • UX Updates and HiDPI! Aww yeah!

      Greetings Pop!_OS Fans! I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday for those in the U.S., we here at System76 each had a wonderful time. Yours truly took the opportunity to visit his family and got appropriately spoiled!

  • Server
    • Find the Perfect Kubernetes Distribution

      There are many different types of Kubernetes distributions in the container orchestration realm. They range from fully community produced to fully commercial and vary according to the tools and features they offer, as well as the levels of abstraction and control the provide. So which Kubernetes distribution is right for your organization?

      Your needs as a user — including the working environment, the availability of expertise, and the specific use case you’re dealing with — determine whether Containers as a Service (CaaS) or an abstracted platform is the right choice. No single, straightforward framework exists to guarantee a perfect decision. Still, the two charts we present below may be a start.

  • Kernel Space
    • Systemd 236 Is Being Prepped For Release This Month With Many Changes

      Lennart Poettering has begun his release wrangling process in getting systemd 236 ready for release this month.

    • Intel Releases New Linux Media Driver For VA-API

      While Intel has been supporting VA-API for years, basically since X-Video/XvMC became irrelevant, as its primary video API for video acceleration, they are now rolling out a new media driver.

      [...]

      Details and motivation on writing this new “Intel Media Driver” for Linux remain light and I have yet to see any official announcement out of Intel, but the code is available via intel/media-driver on GitHub with the initial public code drop having just occurred yesterday.

    • Intel Sends In The First Set Of Changes For Linux 4.16 i915 DRM
    • AMDGPU’s Scheduler Might Get Picked Up By Other DRM Drivers

      One of the benefits of open-source software is the ability for code re-use by other projects and that may now happen with the AMDGPU kernel driver’s scheduler.

      Prominent Etnaviv driver developer Lucas Stach who has long been working on this open-source reverse-engineered Vivante graphics driver is looking to make use of the AMDGPU DRM scheduler. This scheduler is responsible for scheduling command submissions, supports scheduling priorities, and other related functionality.

    • AMD Publishes More DC Patches, Disables FreeSync By Default

      If you have encountered some early fallout from using the AMDGPU DC display stack or just want to help in testing patches likely to be queued for Linux 4.16, AMD has sent out another patch of DC patches.

      Harry Wentland of AMD kicked off his Friday morning by sending out another 20 patches for this big display code-base.

    • Graphics Stack
      • XDG-Shell Promoted To Stable In Wayland-Protocols 1.12

        Jonas Ådahl of Red Hat has released a new version of Wayland-Protocols, the collection of protocols that extends/introduces new functionality not part of the core Wayland protocol.

        Wayland-Protocols 1.12 is the new release and promotes the latest work on the XDG-Shell protocol from unstable to stable. XDG-Shell is the Wayland protocol extension for defining more functionality around traditional Linux desktop environments that isn’t part of the core Wayland protocol. This includes work around window resizing/stacking/dragging and other functionality. Most (all?) Wayland desktop compositors now support XDG-Shell.

    • Benchmarks
      • Windows 10 WSL vs. Docker on Windows 10 vs. Bare Metal Linux Performance

        With the recent Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update there were some improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) particularly around boosting the I/O performance (though further WSL performance work is coming), so this week I’ve been carrying out some fresh benchmarks of Windows 10 WSL with its openSUSE and Fedora options. For additional perspective I also compared the performance to running benchmarks with Linux containers on Docker under Windows 10 and lastly the “bare metal” Linux performance.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Applications 17.12 Linux Software Suite Up to RC State, Final in Two Weeks

        The KDE Applications 17.12 RC development snapshot is here two weeks after the Beta version and promises to further polish various of the applications included in the software suite, which are used on GNU/Linux distributions using the acclaimed KDE Plasma desktop environment, as well as other Open Source projects.

        “The KDE Applications 17.12 releases need a thorough testing in order to maintain and improve the quality and user experience. Actual users are critical to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers simply cannot test every possible configuration,” reads today’s announcement.

      • Sharing Files on Android or iOS from your Qt App

        It‘s a common usecase to share Files or Content from native Android or iOS Apps with other Apps on your phone. So I thought this would be an easy task to add sharing to my mobile Apps built with QtQuickControls2.

        Found the Blog from Eskil Abrahamsen Blomfeld about Intents with Qt for Android, part 1. Please read that Blog to learn about Android Intents, Qt Android Extras, JNI and HowTo use it from Qt. All of this was new to me – never did JNI before. Also I‘m not an experienced native developer for Android or iOS – that‘s the reason why I‘m using Qt for mobile App development.

        I also found Share on iOS and Android using QML, where I learned HowTo share Text and a URL and HowTo structure a QtCreator project for Android and iOS with native code integration.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK4 Lands More Vulkan, HTML5 Broadway & Win32 Improvements

        It’s been another busy week of development on the GTK4 tool-kit.

        Last week I wrote about GTK4 Broadway improvements with work on this HTML5 back-end to GTK+ being revived for allowing GTK applications to be rendered within modern web browsers via HTML5/canvas. The work on Broadway continued this past week.

        Broadway changes this week includes improved logging, introducing a texture cache, improved logging, and other changes by Alexander Larsson.

      • Product review: WASD V2 Keyboard

        I, too, bought a custom keyboard from WASD. It is quite nice to be able to customize the printing using an SVG file. Yes, my keyboard has GNOME feet on the super keys, and a Dvorak layout, and, oh yes, Cantarell font. Yes, Cantarell was silly, and yes, it means bad kerning, but it is kind of cool to know I’m probably the only person on the planet to have a Cantarell keyboard.

        It was nice for a little under one year. Then I noticed that the UV printing on some of the keys was beginning to wear off. WASD lets you purchase individual keycaps at a reasonable price, and I availed myself of that option for a couple keys that needed it, and then a couple more. But now some of the replacement keycaps need to be replaced, and I’ve owned the keyboard for just over a year and a half. It only makes sense to purchase a product this expensive if it’s going to last.

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • What does Linux’s 26 year journey means to Open source firm SUSE?

        Open source projects, according to Giacomo, can only be viable, if some of these projects turn into successful products and some companies can make profits out of it and then they can reinvest in the (Open source) communities.

        However, such engagements and involvements also comes with some amount of risks, which could dilute and impact the culture and values of Open source to an extent that the future ways of doing things might get bit changed.

        Having said that, such risks actually are quiet far from becoming any reality – all because of the number of Linux foundations or groups that are today like the Linux Foundation, the Apache Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation and others. They actually try to work on collaborative, collective agendas and decisions that would drive the future direction of Open source technologies.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • distribution-wide projects in Debian

        Assuming that there was Debian-wide consensus that this was a good idea, in theory it could be achieved. The main problem would be that many of the upstream authors of the software we package would not accept the change. Consequently, Debian would be left carrying the patches.

        We generally try to remain as close to upstream’s code as possible and shy away from carrying too many patches in too many packages. The ideal lifecycle for a patch is for it to be accepted upstream. Patches are a burden for packagers, and we don’t have enough packagers or packager time (or both).

      • Free software activities in November 2017
      • November 2017 report: LTS, standard disclosure, Monkeysphere in Python, flash fraud and Goodbye Drupal
      • Monthly FLOSS activity – 2017/11 edition
      • LOSS Activities November 2017
      • Debian LTS work, November 2017

        I was assigned 13 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 14 hours from September. I worked all 17 hours.

      • Mini-DebConf Cambridge 2017

        Last week I attended Cambridge’s annual mini-DebConf. It’s slightly strange to visit a place one has lived in for a long time but which is no longer home. I joined Nattie in the ‘video team house’ which was rented for the whole week; I only went for four days.

      • Derivatives
        • First Raspberry Pi Desktop Release Based on Debian Stretch Is Out for PCs & Macs

          The company kicked off the month of December with a big announcement today, announcing that they’ve managed to rebase the Raspberry Pi Desktop OS for PCs and Macs on the latest stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, as well as to release a new version of the Raspbian Stretch distro for Raspberry Pi.

          “Today, we are launching the first Debian Stretch release of the Raspberry Pi Desktop for PCs and Macs,” said Simon Long, UX engineer at Raspberry Pi Foundation. “We’re also pleased to announce that we are releasing the latest version of Raspbian Stretch for your Pi today.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Big Unity Desktop Update Coming to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            A sled load of Unity desktop bug fixes are on their way to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

            Ubuntu may have ditched Unity as its default desktop of choice but Canonical is committed to maintaining the desktop (and its related technology stack) for the duration of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

            And as proof of that commitment they are currently preparing to a sizeable stable release update (SRU) for Xenial desktops, which should roll out to all users well before Christmas is upon us.

          • Ubuntu Unity Remix? Are We Going To Get A New Ubuntu “Unity” Flavor In Future?

            With Ubuntu 17.10 release, Canonical made a move from Unity desktop environment to GNOME. Canonical tried to keep some Unity feel and gave the new GNOME edition a makeover. While many welcomed this step, many people expressed their concerns and support for Ubuntu Unity.

            It looks like some members of the Ubuntu family are making efforts to turn Ubuntu Unity into an official LTS distribution of Unity. Spotted by OMG Ubuntu, this proposal has already the backing of a former Compiz/Unity dev. Also, many Canonical employees are offering their support to the same.

          • Ubuntu Desktop Weekly Update: December 1, 2017

            GNOME Disk Utility If you have snaps installed and open the Disks utility, your snaps appear as loop devices. We found this to be confusing and a bit messy, so we have proposed a fix upstream and this should be merged soon.

          • Ubuntu Podcast: S10E39 – Hysterical Daffy Furniture
          • Ubuntu 17.10 Brings Back GNOME Desktop Environment

            Ubuntu is one of the most popular Debian-based Linux distributions, and it’s undergone a lot of changes. Most recently, Canonical, the developer collective behind Ubuntu, switched from the GNOME desktop environment to an in-house alternative called Unity. But the most recent version of Ubuntu, 17.10, brings back GNOME 3.26.

            With GNOME comes GDM (GNOME Display Manager), a tweakable settings menu that replaces Unity’s LightDM. GNOME’s ecosystem makes it arguably easier to customize than the latter — unlike previous versions of Ubuntu, for example, you can change the location of the Windows control buttons (minimise, fullscreen and close) in just a few button presses.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE and Xfce Beta Editions Now Available to Download

              Incorporating pretty much the same improvements that the Linux Mint devs implemented in the final releases of the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” earlier this week, today’s KDE and Xfce flavors are based on Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and powered by the Linux 4.10 kernel.

              “Linux Mint 18.3 is a long-term support release which will be supported until 2021. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable to use,” read the release announcements for Linux Mint 18.3 KDE and Xfce Editions.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 ‘Sylvia’ KDE and Xfce betas available for download, but don’t bother

              Linux Mint is a great operating system that I recommend highly. It is based on the rock-solid Ubuntu 16.04, meaning it is stable and compatible with many packages. For Windows converts in particular, Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop environment can be a very inviting first-time distribution that should offer a positive experience. The Mate DE variant is a solid choice too — if your hardware is a bit anemic, that is.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Apache Impala gets top-level status as open source Hadoop tool

    Born at Cloudera, an MPP query engine now known as Apache Impala just became a top-level project. One of its objectives is to bring SQL-style interactivity to big data analytics.

  • Nutanix CEO Turns to Open Source Software for Hybrid Cloud Stack

    After announcing a new software-centric approach on an earnings call with investors, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey told SDxCentral that open source code will be a major piece of the company’s pure software play.

    Pandey said Nutanix will further embrace Apache Software Foundation open source tools in 2018, 2019, and beyond as the company attempts to deliver consumer grade developer building blocks in Xi. Xi refers to the company’s public cloud service that allows customers to move on-premise workloads to Google’s public cloud. It is slated for release in 2018.

  • Launching an Open Source Project: A Free Guide

    Increasingly, as open source programs become more pervasive at organizations of all sizes, tech and DevOps workers are choosing to or being asked to launch their own open source projects. From Google to Netflix to Facebook, companies are also releasing their open source creations to the community. It’s become common for open source projects to start from scratch internally, after which they benefit from collaboration involving external developers.

    Launching a project and then rallying community support can be more complicated than you think, however. A little up-front work can help things go smoothly, and that’s exactly where the new guide to Starting an Open Source Project comes in.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • State of Mozilla 2016: Annual Report

        Mozilla is not your average company. Mozilla was founded nearly 20 years ago with the mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource that is open and accessible to all and the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto still guide our work today. Mozilla exists to protect the health of the internet and maintain the critical balance between commercial profit and public benefit.

        Today, we remain dedicated to the mission in all the work we do, products we develop, and the partnerships, allies, and investments we make.

        In a world with new and evolving threats to the open internet, innovation, user control, and our privacy and security, the Mozilla mission is more important now than ever before. There are billions of people online today who face these risks and every day thousands of Mozillians (employees, allies, volunteers, donors, supporters) fight to promote openness, innovation and opportunity online. We are proudly taking our place in the world to protect the free and open and open internet at a time when the fight needs a leader more than ever.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • The origin of Open source

      Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary which uncovers the realities of the software industry. It tells you a true tale of how once upon a time software that was free for all became a privilege for a few. It tells you about Richard Stallman who is the founder of free software movement and the history of GNU project. How through the GNU project and Free Source Foundation(FSF) led to the development of Linux and open source definition. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs, that included Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • FFAR awards $1 million grant to create open source technology for gene discovery in plants

      The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to University of California, Davis to study the genetics of rice plants. Together with researchers at the University of North Carolina and collaborators, the team will develop and implement a chemistry-driven gene discovery approach to identify genes that modulate root traits. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the Structural Genomics Consortium, AgBiome, and Promega for a total $2.3 million investment.

    • Paying it forward at Finland’s Aalto Fablab

      Originating at MIT, a fab lab is a technology prototyping platform where learning, experimentation, innovation, and invention are encouraged through curiosity, creativity, hands-on making, and most critically, open knowledge sharing. Each fab lab provides a common set of tools (including digital fabrication tools like laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3D printers) and processes, so you can learn how to work in a fab lab anywhere and use those skills at any of the 1,000+ fab labs across the globe. There is probably a fab lab near you.

  • Programming/Development
    • PHPUnit 6.5

      RPM of PHPUnit version 6.5 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 24 and for Enterprise Linux (CentOS, RHEL…).

Leftovers
  • Home surveillance video shows Amazon contractor pooping in gutter

    Nemy Bautista said it happened around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

    Bautista got home to find what he thought was dog poop and checked his home surveillance to see if he could find the dog’s owner. Instead, Bautista says a woman driving a U-Haul van, delivering packages for Amazon, did the deed.

    Bautista told KTXL he contacted Amazon and a representative came to his home around 8:30 that evening. He said the Amazon representative was unprepared to clean up the mess and had to borrow a bag.

  • Science
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Dairy farming is polluting New Zealand’s water

      Government data suggests that 60% of rivers and lakes are unswimmable

    • NHS makes undisclosed settlement to Richard Branson’s Virgin Care after legal dispute

      The NHS has settled a legal dispute with private healthcare group Virgin Care for an undisclosed amount.

      The Labour Party said it was “scandalous” that the NHS had to defend a legal battle with the company, which is part of Richard Branson’s business empire. It also called on the Department of Health to disclose details of the settlement.

      Virgin Care sued the NHS last year after it lost out on an £82m contract to provide children’s health services across Surrey, citing concerns over “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded.

      The company filed proceedings at the UK High Court naming the six local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Surrey, as well as Surrey County Council and NHS England.

    • VACC: Controversial anti-dengue program is worse than any heinous crime

      A group of anticorruption advocates appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into the government’s dengue immunization program that has potentially exposed children to a more serious health risk.

      The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said on Saturday that they would file a request to urge the DOJ to mobilize the National Bureau of Investigation in looking into the health issue.

      On Wednesday, pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that children who have not yet been afflicted with dengue and have received the vaccine Dengvaxia are exposed to “more cases of severe disease.”

    • More States Hatch Plans to Recycle Drugs Being Wasted in Nursing Homes

      Other states, including Vermont, are exploring the idea as well.

      “All that medicine is perfectly good and perfectly safe,” said Rep. Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, who co-sponsored a bill in Florida modeled on the Iowa program. “Rather than being burned up, it could be put back to some great use.”

      ProPublica’s story detailed how the nursing home industry dispenses medication a month at a time, but then is forced to destroy it after patients pass away, stop using it or move out. Some send the drugs to massive regional incinerators or flush them down the toilet, creating environmental concerns.

      In Iowa, a program called SafeNetRx retrieves the excess medication, inspects it and dispenses it for free to needy patients. Almost 80,000 Iowans have used SafeNetRx to obtain medication — from cheap antibiotics to cancer drugs worth thousands of dollars per month.

    • Real wish or drunken regret? A “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo throws doctors

      The patient, who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation, continued to decline in health throughout the night. He died without further efforts of resuscitation, as requested.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Hacking suspect Lauri Love waits for extradition decision

      igh Court judges have said they will “take time” to decide whether an alleged computer hacker should be extradited from Britain to stand trial in the US.
      Lauri Love, 32, from Stradishall, Suffolk, is suspected of hacking into FBI, US Central Bank and Nasa systems.
      His lawyers are appealing against an earlier UK court decision that he should be extradited.
      The High Court judgement has been reserved until a date yet to be fixed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • New study uncovers the ‘keystone domino’ strategy of climate denial

      Basically, if these bloggers can create the perception that the science underlying polar bear or Arctic sea ice vulnerability to climate change is incorrect, their readers will assume that all of climate science is fatally flawed. And blogs can be relatively influential – surveys have shown that blog readers trust them more than traditional news and information sources.

    • This Ingredient in Your Halloween Chocolate Could Be Linked to Deforestation

      Most of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia, where oil palm fruits are harvested to extract the oil. To make room for plantations, rain forests are cleared, often displacing communities from their homes and destroying habitats for tigers, elephants and rhinos.

    • New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

      Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top two producers of palm oil. Their area of industrial plantations more than quadrupled in extent from 1990 to 2015. Over the same period, regional rates of forest loss rose to among the world’s highest. Forest clearance is driven by a number of factors — establishing plantations is one factor. The development of mills and associated infrastructure to extract and transport palm oil also impacts forests.

    • Toxic glowing organism poses new threat to Baltic Sea

      The Natural Resources Institute is developing new ways to combat Alexandrium ostenfeldii, a toxic organism now thriving due to climate change.

    • Cities at Crossroads: Perils of plastics waste

      The plastic menace for Indian cities is compounded because of their generally poor state of solid waste management and the poor infrastructure for sewerage and stormwater drainage. Developing eco-friendly consumption habits such as avoiding disposable catering items and using washable cups and plates instead, will make a difference, but plastics will continue to play an important role in our lives. A sustainable way forward is to minimise consumption of disposable/single use plastic items, create awareness about the use of appropriate grade of plastic for different purposes, and emphasise the importance of recycling and reusing plastic.

    • The ‘lost 99%’ of microplastic ocean pollutants can now be identified

      The Warwick team has come up with a kind of dye that lights up plastics, making it easier for analysts to spot even the smallest piece of plastic in ocean waters. The scientists then proceeded to check waters using their new method and found a lot more particles than what was previously estimated.

    • Light pollution: Night being lost in many countries
    • Pigs to debut at new zoo in the Muslim-majority north

      However, an armed insurgency has plagued the state since 1990. There has been a major upswing of violence since the PDP-BJP coalition came to power. Struggling to overcome recent spells of deadly violence, the government has sought to use multiple resources to restore peace and prosperity.

    • Rohingya Influx Brings ‘Environmental Catastrophe’: Bangladesh Officials

      As many as seven reserve forests, totaling about 2,500 acres, have been wiped out in just over two months in Cox’s Bazar district as incoming Rohingya refugees cut down trees for firewood and to construct makeshift shelters, area forest officer Ali Kabir said.

    • Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime in the Danube-Carpathian Region

      Environmental crime is not a niche problem. It is now the fourth largest type of criminal activity in the world, and valued at anywhere between 91 and 258 billion USD every year. This colossal sum fuels organized crime, undermines the rule of law and robs us of the natural resources and ecosystems we need to survive.

    • Malaysia, Indonesia say EU palm resolution will affect millions

      In April, the European Parliament backed a call for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils used in biofuels to prevent the European Union’s renewable transport targets for post-2020 leading to deforestation.

    • What they don’t tell you about climate change

      Fully 101 of the 116 models the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses to chart what lies ahead assume that carbon will be taken out of the air in order for the world to have a good chance of meeting the 2°C target.

    • Don’t sneak Arctic oil drilling into tax bill

      Like a small tumor, the Arctic Refuge oil drilling provision needs to be immediately cut from the tax bill by amendment. The 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is widely recognized as the biological heart of the refuge and is as important to our nation’s natural heritage as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

    • 200,000 Gallons of Oil Spill From the Keystone Pipeline

      The Keystone pipeline was temporarily shut down on Thursday, after leaking about 210,000 gallons of oil into Marshall County, South Dakota*, during an early-morning spill.

    • One photo shows how the Keystone pipeline is living up to activists’ biggest fears

      The Keystone pipeline has leaked far more oil than the Canadian company that operates the project initially predicted to regulators.

    • The Fight Over The Dakota Access Pipeline Continues!

      The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux have filed court documents urging a federal judge to reject the recent arguments of federal officials and the pipeline developer that the tribes’ proposals aren’t needed.

    • Keystone oil pipeline leaks in South Dakota, as Nebraska weighs XL

      Opponents of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline seized on the spill, saying it highlighted the risks posed by the XL project – which has become a symbol for environmentalists of fossil-fuel pollution and global warming.

    • Nebraska Approves Route for Keystone XL Pipeline

      On Monday, Nebraska officials approved a route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, an expansion of the existing, 2,600-mile Keystone pipeline. The decision comes less than a week after a massive oil leak in the existing pipeline — which transmits oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Texas — leaked 210,000 gallons of crude oil in eastern South Dakota.

    • Even a tiny oil spill spells bad news for birds

      Ingesting even small amounts of oil can interfere with the animals’ normal behavior, researchers reported November 15 at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America. Birds can take in these smaller doses by preening slightly greasy feathers or eating contaminated food, for example.

    • State Department reviewing Keystone XL approval after Nebraska decision

      The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 on Monday to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But the commission will not allow developer TransCanada to build along its preferred path, instead rerouting the pipeline through an alternative corridor.

    • The Keystone XL Pipeline Fight Is Not Over Yet

      Today’s hearing represented the first time the PSC had used its new powers to regulate a pipeline, a right that TransCanada has repeatedly challenged. (Jim Smith, a state senator widely known as a TransCanada ally, proposed legislation earlier this year stripping the commissioners’ salaries.) The body’s decision was confusing, seeming to hand victories to both sides: The Canadian company had come before the commissioners with a specific route in mind, which tracks diagonally through the middle of the state, skirting the edge of the remote and vulnerable Nebraska Sandhills. This route, the company had argued was essential to completing the Keystone XL. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve TransCanada for an entirely different route – offering them instead one which enters and exits the state in the same place as the company’s proposed route, but tracks many miles east along the existing Keystone One pipeline, an area for which they had not applied, and presumably do not control the leases on.

    • Albert Bender: The original genocide continues with the Dakota Access Pipeline

      The decision of this one rogue judge to let the oil continue to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer drags out a supplemental environmental analysis is nothing short of destroying the health of and robbing the livelihoods of the Standing Rock Sioux people. This is in keeping with a legacy connected to genocide that began 500 years ago against the Indigenous of this hemisphere.

    • Detroit kids’ lead poisoning rates higher than Flint

      Detroit had Michigan’s highest proportion of children test positive for lead poisoning in 2016 — 8.8 percent of kids tested — including one ZIP code where 22 percent were found to have lead poisoning.

    • Flint Water Committee Cancels Its Fourth Straight Meeting, Saying They Have Absolutely Nothing to Discuss

      The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, which Snyder formed in in the wake of the city’s lead-poisoned water crisis, has only met twice since March. On Monday, a notice sent to committee members announced the meeting scheduled for this Friday was canceled “due to no agenda items being received from FWICC members as of (Monday, Nov. 13).”

    • Flint council narrowly OKs 30-year water deal
    • What Thanksgiving looks like for Flint, the city without safe drinking water

      Thanksgiving Day will be the 1,308th day of the Flint water crisis. For residents, that’s 1,308 days without being able to drink from the tap. Flint’s presence has waned in the news, but it remains a very real crisis for those in the city that still stack pallets of water bottles in the corner of their kitchen and can’t turn on the faucet for a glass of water.

    • Miles From Flint, Residents Turn Off Taps in New Water Crisis

      Decades ago, Wolverine dumped sludge and leather from its tannery in the woods around here. For years, the company and the government stayed mostly silent about the trash piles, even as developers built houses and a golf course near them and even as researchers documented serious health risks from chemicals in the sludge.

    • Climate Crisis, ‘Smart’ Growth and the Logic of Calamity

      A few years back at a Leftish gathering a group of self-described Marxist economists channeled liberal Democrat Paul Krugman’s explanation of the Great Recession without apparently knowing of Mr. Krugman’s thesis. Basically, a self-perpetuating recession had a grip on the economy, Wall Street was a catalyst of the crisis but ultimately only a bit player, money is economically ‘neutral,’ and government spending could raise demand and end the recession.

      This is all standard fare in liberal economics. Within the circular logic of the genre, it circles just fine. What was odd was hearing it from self-described Marxists. Since Wall Street created the money that fueled the housing bubble and bust through predatory lending, how was its role not (1) pivotal and (2) political? If money is ‘neutral,’ why have financial asset prices responded so favorably (for their owners) to asset purchases by global central banks? And finally, where is the class analysis?

  • Finance
    • I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

      “There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

      That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

      Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

    • A hated tax but a fair one

      The case for taxing inherited assets is strong

    • PM Sipilä: Finland can’t afford for healthcare reform [sic] to fail

      The vision is in jeopardy after four municipalities in the south of Lapland, three of them controlled by the Centre Party, signed a long-term deal with the private firm Mehiläinen to outsource the Länsi Pohja hospital.

      That deal would tie the hands of an incoming Lapland provincial government—one of 18 regional bodies slated to take over responsibility for care services under the reform. The contract carries a 100 million euro penalty clause if the public sector backs out of the agreement.

    • The Link Between Non-Choosy Immigration Policies And Child Poverty

      No other country taking part in PISA has seen a steeper fall.

    • Financial Tyranny: “We The People” Are The New Permanent Underclass In America

      They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either.

    • Bitcoin loses over a fifth of its value in less than 24 hours

      Bitcoin slid to as low as $9,000 in volatile trade on Thursday, having lost more than a fifth of its value since hitting an all-time high of $11,395 on Wednesday. BTC=BTSP.

    • Senate Republicans are cutting health care to pay for a corporate tax cut

      Under the proposed changes, the bill’s tax cuts and benefits for individual Americans would almost all sunset by December 31, 2025. That includes the increased child tax credit, the doubled standard deduction, the estate tax cut, repeal of the alternative minimum tax, and even the tax break for pass-through business income. Some revenue raisers on the individual side, like abolition of deductions for state and local taxes and the elimination of personal exemptions, would expire at the end of that year too.

    • Bitcoin will hit $40,000 in a year! But beware, have small exposure
    • Get ready for a wave of Bitcoin forks

      On August 1, a dissident faction of the Bitcoin community created a new payment network called Bitcoin Cash. There are lots of Bitcoin-derived spinoff currencies, of course, but this was unusual because it branched off from the existing Bitcoin blockchain. The result was the cryptocurrency equivalent of a stock split: everyone who owned one bitcoin before the split suddenly owned a “cash” bitcoin after the split.

      Today, the value of Bitcoin Cash in circulation is about $20 billion. That makes it the third most valuable currency, after only the original Bitcoin and Ethereum. And this appears to be newly created wealth. The value of vanilla bitcoins didn’t fall significantly on the day of the split, and it has since zoomed upwards so that the value of all conventional bitcoins is now around $150 billion.

    • The first blockchain smartphone will come preloaded with mobile Ethereum client Status

      Blockchain technologies aren’t limited to the virtual world. The foundation of decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is also being applied to hardware products.

      Sirin Labs — the company that created the $14,000 Solarin smartphone — earlier this year announced a smartphone named Finney, which it claims is the only smartphone in the world that’s entirely secure. That means it is safe enough to hold cryptographic coins.

    • There will soon not be enough time for a further referendum before 29 March 2019

      Here is some downbeat information for those who want a further referendum on Brexit before 29 March 2019, the day on which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union by automatic operation of law (unless something exceptional and not currently in view happens).

      There will soon not be enough time to get legislation in place.

      A further referendum, like the last one, would require its own legislation. There would also need to be a period for implementing regulations and (of course) for a campaign.

      The legislation for the last referendum was the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

      A look at its parliamentary stages shows that it took from May to December 2015 to get through parliament: seven months.

    • U.S. consumer financial watchdog official defies Trump from within agency

      Two days after a federal court endorsed President Donald Trump’s deregulatory pick for a consumer watchdog, a rival official was encouraging agency staff to keep up the pressure on the lending industry, several current and former officials said on Friday.

    • Guillotine watch: The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us this year want $16M-$32M in bonuses for their performance

      Toys R Us was taken over in a debt-loading act of financial engineering in 2005; over the years, despite turning a profit, the service on that debt dragged Toys R Us lower and lower until the management team picked by the financial engineers finally bankrupted the company.

      The top 17 execs at the company received $8.2 million in “retention bonuses” mere days before they took the company into bankruptcy. Now they want millions more — $16M-$32M just to stay with the company while it “restructures.”

    • Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump: Joseph Stiglitz on Shared Prosperity Without Protectionism

      In the updated edition of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s new book, “Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump,” he argues that when Trump became president, he “threw a hand grenade into the global economic order.” We speak with Stiglitz about the impact of free trade agreements that Trump has criticized.

    • Don’t be a stranger: offshore finance and the UK’s balance of payments

      There are also a group of smaller central American countries who own £549bn of assets in the UK and a group of smaller non-EU European countries who hold £452bn — which collectively includes the UK’s crown dependencies like the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

      [...]

      Of the £764.4bn of FDI into the UK during 2015, £82.8bn was originally from UK companies, according to this analysis. That’s about 11 per cent of the total and is likely an underestimate as the ONS also found that the ultimate controlling parent companies of many of the companies investing in the UK through Luxembourg include Gibraltar, Panama and the Cayman Islands, who may themselves be pass-throughs for UK investors.

      Foreign direct investment is not the only kind of investment made into the UK. Much of the investment, from Ireland and Luxembourg in particular, comes in the form of portfolio investment, the name for purchases of shares and securities. After the US they are the two biggest sources of portfolio investment into the UK.

    • Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham

      Donald Trump isn’t exactly shy when it comes to denouncing things he doesn’t like. And there’s one particular part of the tax code that he denounced over and over both during the campaign and after taking office.

      He said that the people benefiting from this portion of the code were “getting away with murder.”

      So you’d think that the tax bill being pushed through Congress with Trump’s eager backing would be closing this loophole. But you’d be wrong. As you’ll see in a bit, talking about closing the loophole isn’t the same as closing it.

      The loophole is called “carried interest.” That’s tax jargon for the share of investors’ profits that goes to the managers of private equity funds, venture capital funds and hedge funds. The standard rate is 20 percent of a fund’s profits, although there’s wide variation, both up and down.

    • On Shame and Rot

      At the end of a freakish day in D.C., Democratic lawmakers received and furiously savaged the most freakish indignity of so many: Finally, a copy of the multi-billion-dollar GOP tax scam for the rich, all 479 pages of it, complete with scribbled, last-minute, hand-written goofs and adds and changes – this, a scandalous couple of hours before the scheduled vote on a bill that could cost millions of Americans massive pain and loss, making it virtually impossible for them to even read the friggin’ thing. Virginia’s Mark Warner on the chicken-scratch muddle inflicted on them and us: “This is how we’re writing legislation now?” See a livid, incredulous Elizabeth Warren, trying to decipher the mess, echo and answer him: “This is how the Republicans make tax policy.” Robert Reich: “Never before in history has Congress worked so quickly, affecting so much of the economy and so many of our people, with so little deliberation. This is a travesty of democracy.” That travesty, notes Paul Krugman, reflects “the outright lies” and the moral rot that “spreads wide and runs deep” of the entire Republican Party, which has exhibited “a level of bad faith we haven’t seen in U.S. politics since the days when defenders of slavery physically assaulted their political foes on the Senate floor.” The solution: Get ‘em all out.

    • Why we can no longer worship at GDP’s altar

      Larry Elliott (Opinion, 30 November) is absolutely right to question a fixation on growth at all costs. We know that infinite economic growth simply isn’t compatible with a planet of finite resources, and we also know that the treatment of environmental concerns as “externalities” in pursuit of never-ending GDP increases is incredibly damaging. So if we know that growth is environmentally damaging, and not a guarantee of increased wellbeing, how do we shift our focus towards a new measure of a good society?

      We need a new set of indicators that better reflect genuine wellbeing. For a start I would suggest we should aim to share out paid work more widely and evenly, and increase the amount of positive leisure time people have, giving them more choice about time with their communities, friends and family. The Green party’s calls for a shorter working week are often attacked as being anti-growth, but that misses the point of policymaking that should surely be to serve people rather than worship at the altar of GDP.

    • What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

      The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activities humans currently perform—a development that has sparked much public concern.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • England’s top religious authority says he doesn’t understand Christian support for Trump

      “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from,” he said of Trump’s support among Christian [sic] fundamentalists.

    • Susan Sarandon: ‘I thought Hillary was very dangerous. If she’d won, we’d be at war’

      But it’s upsetting that they’re still feeding the same misinformation to people. When Obama got the nomination, 25% of [Hillary’s] people didn’t vote for him. Only 12% of Bernie’s people didn’t vote for her.”

    • Why Can’t We Just Burn Gerrymandering To The Ground?
    • Citing Trump, Philippines dictator declares himself to be a “fascist” and vows to persecute peaceful left-wing opposition groups

      Duterte attributed his embrace of fascism to Trump and the shift in US politics, stating “I will follow America, since they say that I am an American boy. OK, granted, I will admit that I am a fascist. I will categorize you already as a terrorist.”

    • Philippines: March on Presidential Palace Condemns Duterte “Dictatorship”

      And in the Philippines capital Manila, police opened fire with water cannons on more than 1,000 activists Thursday as they marched to the presidential palace demanding the resignation of President Rodrigo Duterte. The activists blasted Duterte for welcoming President Trump to the Philippines last month, saying he’s presided over a bloody so-called war on drugs that’s seen police and vigilantes carry out more than 7,000 extrajudicial killings. This is protester Vencer Crisostomo.

    • Duterte Admits ‘Fascism,’ Ends Peace Talks With Communists and Vows Crackdown on Left

      “The threat of a terrorist listing may also be used by Duterte to force the revolutionary forces to surrender, but that won’t likely happen. In any case, if he does push through with it, it has the effect of terminating talks.”

    • David Davis threatens to quit if Damian Green is sacked unfairly

      David Davis has come to the defence of Damian Green, indicating that he may resign if the first secretary of state is forced to quit as a result of the Cabinet Office investigation into inappropriate behaviour.

      The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.

      The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.

    • Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Lying In The Russia Investigation And Will Cooperate With Prosecutors

      Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

      Flynn entered his guilty plea at federal court in Washington, DC, on Friday morning, becoming the fourth person charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe.

      Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal. If prosecutors conclude Flynn provided “substantial assistance,” they’ve agreed to ask the judge to reduce his sentence. The single count of making false statements carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but according to court filings he likely faces an estimated range of zero to six months.

      No sentencing date was set at his hearing. Prosecutors will file an update with the court in three months, by Feb. 1. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller’s team could include interviews, providing sworn written statements, taking a polygraph exam, and “participating in covert law enforcement activities,” according to the plea agreement.

    • Mueller Socks It To Trump

      The news of the day, besides the wallowing tax bill in the Senate of the USA, is that Michael Flint has made a deal with Mueller and that he was doing all this Russian work for the campaign. Chuckle. Now, Trump is trying to back the bus up over Flint saying Flint was acting on his own… Oh, yes. I have a bridge I’d like to sell too…

    • Stocks fall on report that Michael Flynn was directed by Trump to talk to Russians

      Stocks fell Friday on a report that Michael Flynn was directed by President Trump to talk to Russians.

      ABC News reported that Flynn, the former national security adviser, would testify that he was directed to make contact with Russians during the presidential campaign in 2016. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his postelection contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

    • Why Is There No “Saudi-Gate”?

      Imagine if Russia — instead of doing what it has been accused of doing last year — had funded and facilitated an attack on US soil that killed thousands of Americans. Then imagine that US policymakers, rather than punish the Kremlin by cutting diplomatic ties, imposing sanctions, seeking legal recourse, or all of the above, covered up its involvement in the attack and continued to treat it as a loyal ally.

      Imagine if the president who presided over that attack had decades of intimate personal and financial ties to members of the Russian elite and subsequently spirited dozens of Russian nationals out of the country before law enforcement could interrogate them.

      Imagine if, despite full knowledge of the Kremlin’s once and ongoing anti-American activities, successive presidents heaped praise on Russia’s authoritarian government, sold it weapons, and made regular pilgrimages to wine and dine with its leaders.

      Imagine if an army of Russian lobbyists operated on Capitol Hill to ensure Washington’s pro-Kremlin line, eventually pressuring American leadership into actively assisting it in carrying out one of this decade’s worst war crimes.

    • Don’t Stop the Presses! When Local News Struggles, Democracy Withers

      Thomas Peele’s friend keeps bugging him. “Are you going to win?” the friend writes over Facebook. “I think you’re going to win.” “What are you going to do when you win?” “Shut up,” Peele thinks. He’s an old-school watchdog reporter. Blue eyes that bore into you. Fewer words, better.

      It’s a Monday in April, and Peele and his colleagues at the East Bay Times, a newspaper in Oakland, California, are waiting to find out whether they’ve won the biggest award in journalism. For five months the paper has been reporting on the fallout of a fire that killed 36 people when it ripped through an Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. Illegally converted into artist residences, the building had a tangled layout that made it hard to escape. The Times’ coverage has painted the tragedy—Oakland’s deadliest fire—as symptomatic of the city’s lax fire-code enforcement and its affordable-housing crisis.

      Peele wonders if he should have bought a case of champagne; he saw a sale at the grocery store over the weekend. No, best he didn’t. You don’t want to jinx these things. They probably won’t win anyway. He tells himself the newsroom would have gotten a heads-up, right? While he sits in his cubicle, psyching himself down for defeat, two colleagues, David DeBolt and Matthias Gafni, busy themselves with a story about another fire, one that killed four people.

    • Roy Moore is still in the running because “values voters” would support Satan himself if he was anti-abortion and homophobic

      The term “values voter” is taken to mean someone who votes for politicians on the basis of their personal integrity and values; in reality, polls and studies show that evangelicals who identify as “values voters” support candidates they know to be repugnant or even monstrous, if they believe that those politicians will promise to take away abortion rights and persecute queers.

    • Trump Called Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ at an Event Honoring Navajo Code Talkers

      On November 27, the president of the United States made a racist comment at an event intended to honor Native American veterans.

      During a ceremony at the White House, President Donald Trump met with three Navajo code talkers who served in World War II to thank them for their service, but added a familiar jab at Senator Elizabeth Warren in his comments. “You were here long before any of us were here,” he said to the veterans, according to NBC. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.” He made the remark in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, a law that enabled the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands, resulting in thousands of deaths during resettlement.

    • White House Defends Trump ‘Pocahontas’ Comment

      The White House is denying President Donald Trump uttered a racial slur during an Oval Office event Monday honoring some Native American military veterans.

      “I don’t think that it is and that certainly not was the president’s intent,” replied Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked about Trump again referring to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” the name of the famous reputed daughter of an early 17th century tribal chief.

    • The One Good Thing That Could Come From The NYT Nazi Piece

      The New York Times wrote an article profiling a Nazi this weekend, and man, did that not go over well. Seems like when you share little anecdotes about muffin trays and lunch at Panera Bread with a guy who described Hitler as “kind of chill” in regards to his desire to kill homosexuals and Slavs, a lot of people will dislike it.

    • What a moment to cut ourselves off from friends in Europe

      Theresa May is reviled for her weakness. But, as so often, cliches deceive. No British prime minister has found the strength to condemn an American president as she condemned Donald Trump since the Anglo-American alliance began in the Second World War. Anthony Eden maintained a public silence as Eisenhower destroyed his premiership, and Britain’s imperial pretensions, when he stopped the Suez adventure of 1956.

      Harold Wilson ignored Lyndon Johnson’s pleas to send British troops to Vietnam. But he infuriated the radicals of the 1968 generation by diplomatically refusing to speak out against the war. Thatcher and Reagan, Major and Clinton had their private arguments about Grenada and the IRA. Nothing they said matches the forcefulness of May’s out, loud and proud denunciation of Trump for sharing the “hateful narratives” of British fascists.

    • Stop romanticising the royal family

      It’s hard to write about the British royal family and its affairs without feeling a sense of despair. I mean, we’re told that this is the motherland of liberal democracy, of parliamentarianism as we know it. So how can it be, that in 2017, when this country is under the grip of a shambolic government, and on the verge of a constitutional crisis following Brexit, the front pages of every single mainstream newspaper today were taken over by pictures of two wealthy individuals announcing their upcoming nuptials? Indeed, how can it be that the British taxpayer is footing the bill for this sort of nonsense? Her income has just been raised to £82 million to cover the cost of refurbishing the palace – all whilst the NHS is starved of cash. Not only that, but their right to cream cash off their subjects includes ownership of some of the most expensive real estate in Europe. The Crown Estate owns most of Regent Street and large tracts of St James’s, not to mention thousands of acres of countryside. Last year up to march, they made £328.8 million profit. All because their ancestors’ were squeezed out of the right womb. All because they could curry feudal favours and kick peasants off the land.

    • Trump Tweets He Knew Flynn Lied to FBI When He Asked Comey to ‘Let Flynn Go’

      A day after Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump team’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, Trump tweeted about Flynn:

      “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

      Whether the president remembered it or not, he has never before stated that Flynn lied to the FBI. Whether the president realized it or not, conceding that he knew about Flynn’s FBI lie – to which Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday – opens Trump up to a world of legal hurt. Trump had asked James Comey, the former director of the FBI, to drop an inquiry into a man Trump now says he knew lied to the bureau.

    • Trump Tweet About Surveillance Undercuts FBI’s Glomar Responses In FOIA Lawsuits

      There’s no precedent for the volatility of our current president. That seems to be working out just fine for many, many plaintiffs engaged in lawsuits against the government. Attorney Brad Moss, currently suing the FBI over denied FOIA requests related domestic surveillance of Trump administration personnel, just had a 276-character gift dropped in his lap by the Commander-in-Chief.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Russia warns of retaliation over RT credential withdrawal

      The move came days after Putin signed off on a law allowing Russian authorities to label non-Russian media outlets as “foreign agents” — a measure intended as retaliation for the U.S. making RT register as such.

    • Israel and US Hide Names of Companies Supporting Israeli Settlements

      In December 2016 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution reaffirming that Israel’s Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal and calling on Israel to stop settlement activities in the OPT. Resolution 2334 says the settlements have “no legal validity,” calls them “a flagrant violation under international law,” and demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities.”

      Nine months earlier, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in Resolution 31/36, had ordered the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to “produce a database of all business enterprises” that “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements.”

      The database was scheduled for release in December 2017. Meanwhile, the Israeli and US governments have been trying to prevent that list — which reportedly includes at least 150 local and international companies — from becoming public. “We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon told The Associated Press. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “We just view that type of blacklist as counterproductive.”

    • Censorship of scientists is ramping up, but hostility is nothing new

      It’s been well-chronicled how federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are taking unprecedented steps to silence climate scientists — preventing researchers from speaking, burying some climate research, and ignoring or minimizing other research.

      But, as Professor of Geology Mike Retelle points out, hostility to climate science is nothing new.

      Last month, Retelle joined Professor of Geology Beverly Johnson, Associate Professor of History Joseph Hall, and Professor of Physics John Smedley for a current-events discussion in Pettengill Hall, and he described the travails of climate researchers such as Jim Hansen.

    • ACLU Joins Facebook Censorship Lawsuit Against Loudoun Supervisors

      The American Civil Liberties Union has filed arguments in Brian Davison’s lawsuit against county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and asked to make oral arguments.

      Davison and Randall have both appealed a federal court decision ruling that Randall violated Davison’s First Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution by temporarily blocking him on Facebook.

    • Starting this weekend, China celebrates its “open” internet after a year of unprecedented censorship

      On Dec. 3, researchers, business leaders, and government officials from all over the world will head to the scenic town of Wuzhen in east China for the three-day World Internet Conference. Past attendees include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook vice president Vaughan Smith—and high-level officials from Russia, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

      Despite its global implications, the name “World Internet Conference” is a bit of a misnomer—the event will showcase the internet not as the world sees it, but as China and its ideological peers see it. And while representatives from China’s government will likely hail the “openness” of the country’s internet, the past year made it all too clear that China’s cyberspace is more restricted than ever.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Here’s the NSA Agent Who Inexplicably Exposed Critical Secrets

      A series of leaks has rocked the National Security Agency over the past few years, resulting in digital spy tools strewn across the web that have caused real damage both inside and outside the agency. Many of the breaches have been relatively simple to carry out, often by contractors like the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who employed just a USB drive and some chutzpah. But the most recently revealed breach, which resulted in state secrets reportedly being stolen by Russian spies, was caused by an NSA employee who pleaded guilty Friday to bringing classified information to his home, exposing it in the process. And all, reportedly, to update his resume.

    • NSA employee pleads guilty of taking classified info that was later stolen by hackers

      Former National Security Agency employee Nghia H. Pho said in a Baltimore courtroom today he’d illegally taken home classified documents from NSA that are understood to have later “been stolen from his home computer by hackers working for Russian intelligence,” the NYT reports.

    • Former NSA employee pleads guilty to taking sensitive information

      A former National Security Agency employee pleaded guilty Friday to taking sensitive national defense information from his workplace and storing it at his residence.

    • Guilty: NSA bloke who took home exploits at the heart of Kaspersky antivirus slurp row
    • Former NSA employee kept top secret information at home
    • Former N.S.A. Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information
    • Ex-U.S. NSA employee pleads guilty to taking classified documents
    • NSA employee pleads guilty after stolen classified data landed in Russian hands
    • NSA employee pleads guilty to removing classified information
    • Leaked NSA Ragtime files hint at spying on U.S. citizens

      Exposed data included new information on the NSA Ragtime intelligence gathering program, but it is unclear if the evidence proves Americans were targeted.

    • Seattle Newspaper Files Petition To Peel Back Layers Of Court-Aided Surveillance Secrecy

      A Seattle newspaper is looking to bring some more transparency to law enforcement surveillance tactics. Working with the EFF, The Stranger is making a First Amendment argument about sealed court dockets. The government loves to seal dockets related to criminal cases, especially if agencies have deployed certain surveillance tech or have issued warrants to compel tech company assistance under the Stored Communications Act. (It also loves to shut tech companies up by appending indefinite gag orders to warrants and subpoenas.)

    • Deep Dive: DHS and CBP Nominees’ Unsatisfying Responses to Senators’ Questions on Border Device Searches

      Two of President Trump’s top homeland security nominees faced tough questioning from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) about the civil liberties implications of border searches of digital devices during their confirmation processes. In this deep-dive legal analysis, we dissect the written responses of Kirstjen Nielsen and Kevin McAleenan to “questions for the record” submitted by Sens. Wyden and Paul.

    • EFF Supports the Adoption of Berkeley’s Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance

      Across the nation, much of the American public remains unaware of the risks to privacy and freedom of expression posed by steadily advancing surveillance technologies. Automated license plate readers, cell-site simulators, and face recognition equipment—once confined to the imagination of science fiction authors—have all become common tools for police surveillance. Spy tech is often marketed to local law enforcement agencies with claims (often unsubstantiated) of enabling crime reduction without the need to expand police department personnel. However, the adoption of this equipment and failure to establish critical policies regarding its use presents substantial risks to privacy, as well as civil rights.

      Since 2016, we’ve worked with a range of local and national partners on empowering communities to take control of surveillance equipment policy and acquisition. These coalitions have supported cities across the United States in proposing ordinances that would provide consistent transparency, accountability and oversight measures.

    • House panel advances NSA surveillance bill as parties feud

      The House Intelligence Committee passed a bill Friday to restrain the government’s access to data collected under a powerful authority to collect foreign intelligence on U.S. soil, weighing in on what has become a wide-ranging debate, just days before Congress must act to keep the surveillance program from expiring.

    • House Intel Panel Advances NSA Spying Bill Despite Privacy Concerns

      The House Intelligence Committee on Friday approved legislation that would renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, despite objections from Democrats and civil liberties groups over inadequate privacy protection.

    • Navy Officer Working For The NSA Caught Trying To Search Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      The NSA discovered the violation during an audit and reported it. This is good, but it’s also limited to what the NSA chooses to report.

      The Inspector General has noted in the past it is limited in its oversight abilities by the NSA and its reporting systems. The IG often has trouble compiling the information needed to make a determination about potential violations and there have been times where the NSA has actually destroyed information the IG has needed for investigations.

      Much of what we know about the NSA’s violations is self-reported. But this relies on the agency being forthcoming — something it’s not particularly known for. The gap between what’s discovered and what’s handed over by the agency has been noticed by its Congressional oversight and the FISA court. The latter, in particular, has noted the agency often delivers notification of violations months or years after the violations occur and has been routinely unwilling to clarify technical issues when discussing violations with the court.

    • NSA Surveillance Bill Sparks Lawmaker Debate Over ‘Unmasking’

      Legislation to extend a major U.S. surveillance program that’s about to expire became a forum Friday for partisan debate over President Donald Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration “wiretapped” Trump Tower last year.

      The House Intelligence Committee ultimately approved along party lines its version of a bill to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for four years. The program, which is set to lapse at the end of this month, lets the National Security Agency intercept calls or emails from suspected foreign terrorists outside of the U.S.

    • U.S. House intel panel advances NSA spying bill despite privacy objections

      A U.S. House panel on Friday approved legislation that would renew the National Security Agency´s warrantless internet surveillance program, despite objections from the technology sector and civil liberties groups over inadequate privacy protection.

    • House Intelligence Committee Advances a Deeply Flawed NSA Surveillance Bill

      A bill to extend one of the NSA’s most powerful surveillance tools, and further peel back American civil liberties, was approved today by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a strict party line vote (12-8), with Republican members voting in the majority.

      The committee and the public had less than 48 hours to read and discuss the bill. Democratic committee members openly criticized the short timeframe, amongst other problems.

      “This bill was shared with my office less than 24 hours ago, and here we are marking up legislation that has incredibly profound constitutional implications for all Americans,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). She continued: “We could be sitting here, thoughtfully debating the precarious balance between security and civil liberties and the best path forward, but instead, the majority has decided to do otherwise.”

      The bill is the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, and it was introduced on the evening of November 30 by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). It is the latest legislative attempt to reauthorize Section 702, one of the NSA’s most powerful surveillance authorities that allows for the targeting and collection of communications of non-U.S. persons not living in the United States. The NSA also uses Section 702 to justify the “incidental” collection of American communications that are predictably swept up during foreign intelligence surveillance, too.

    • Australian government upholds dismissal of sneaky golfer who shielded his employer-issued tracking device in a chip-bag

      Tom Colella worked for 20 years as an Instrument Electrical Tradesperson for Aroona Alliance in Western Australia, until he was fired in on Sept 20, 2016 for sneaking off to play golf every Wednesday afternoon and hiding his absences from his employer by putting the PDA that he was obliged to carry — in order to track his movements — in a mylar potato-chip bag that acted as a Faraday cage and prevented it from receiving GPS signals and other location-identifying beacons and storing or communicating his location for his employer.

    • Former N.S.A. Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information
    • Activist Max Schrems sets up non-profit to defend individual privacy under GDPR

      Schrems, whose complaint against Facebook’s practices of transferring European citizens’ personal data to the US led to the downfall of the Safe Harbour agreement, is seeking to take advantage of the strengthened enforcement mechanisms that are written into the EU GDPR data protection legislation, which allows non-profit organisations to defend individual’s privacy rights in the courts.

      The new organisation is called NOYB (none of your business) and describes itself as a ‘European privacy enforcement organisation that enforces your rights in a systematic and effective way’.

      While it is the job of the Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) such as the UK’s Information Commissioners Office to enforce privacy rights, in practice the website says “there are legal, political and factual reasons (e.g. limited resources) that limit the desire and ability of DPAs to do their job”.

    • Ex-NSA Hackers Worry China And Russia Will Try to Arrest Them

      Earlier this week, US prosecutors charged three Chinese nationals for allegedly hacking into several companies in the span of six years. The three hackers worked for a Chinese cybersecurity company and their alleged crimes were not apparently part of a government operation, according to the US Department of Justice. But two anonymous US government officials told Reuters that the company the hackers worked for is affiliated with the Chinese military’s hacking unit, and that “most if not all its hacking operations are state-sponsored and directed.”

      In light of this latest round of indictments against foreign hackers some ex-NSA hackers are starting to worry they might get the same treatment from China or Russia in the future.

      “It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when and how bad,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity consultant who used to work at the NSA’s elite hacking unit Tailored Access Operations (TAO), told Motherboard in a phone call. “What goes around comes around.”

    • NSA Breach Spills Over 100GB Of Top Secret Data

      Earlier this week it was reported that NSA suffered a breach that revealed top secret data. A virtual disk image belonging to the NSA — essentially the contents of a hard drive — was left exposed on a public Amazon Web Services storage server. The server contained more than 100 gigabytes of data from an Army intelligence project codenamed “Red Disk”. Leo Taddeo, Chief Information Security Officer at Cyxtera commented below.

    • Once again: If you carry a sensor of any kind, you must assume it to be active and collecting data, you can’t trust pinky promises

      As Quartz revealed, Google has been tracking your location since the start of 2017. At this point, the story should not be about why Google did this, but why, with all the experience at hand, anybody expected otherwise. Privacy is your own responsibility today.

    • UK gov’s plans to restrict police snooping powers slammed as ‘half-baked’

      “Half-baked concessions dressed up as a public consultation cannot fix a law that fundamentally undermines free speech, our free press and everybody’s privacy.

      “This is window dressing for indiscriminate surveillance of the public, when ministers should be getting on with changing the law.”

    • Unprivate Ryan

      Contrary to your girlfriend’s notion that “relationship” is just another way of saying “two-person surveillance state,” you have a right to privacy. This is a fundamental human right, explained Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, and it comes out of our right to be left alone. So, yes, you are entitled to pick the “privacy settings” on your own life, because the information about your thoughts, emotions, and romantic interactions belongs to you. Nobody gets to dispense that info publicly without your permission — even if this means they have to keep part of their life (the part with you) under wraps.

    • Growing private sector use of facial scanners worries privacy advocates

      Schwartz and other privacy advocates worry that the increased collection of biometric data, especially through facial recognition software, poses a danger to the public.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Eliminating Police Bias When Handling Drug-Sniffing Dogs

      Seven years ago, a researcher named Lisa Lit published a study that she now calls “a real career-ender.”

      On the surface, the study tested the abilities of fourteen certified sniffer dogs to find hidden “targets.” In reality, the dogs’ human handlers were also under the magnifying glass. They were led to believe there were hidden target scents present, when in fact there were none. Nevertheless, the dogs “alerted” to the scents multiple times — especially in locations where researchers had indicated a scent was likely.

    • Drug Dog Testing Process Eliminates Handler Bias. Unsurprisingly, Cops Don’t Like it.

      When a cop needs an excuse to search something (but can’t manage to talk the citizen into consenting) there’s almost always a four-legged cop waiting in the wings to give the cop permission to do what he wanted to do anyway. You will rarely hear testimony given in any court case where a K9 hasn’t “alerted” to the smell of drugs. Once this “alert” is delivered, officers are free to override objections to warrantless searches under the theory that a dog’s permission is all that’s needed.

      What’s willfully ignored by law enforcement officers is the nature of the beasts they deploy: dogs like pleasing handlers and will react to unconscious cues and/or do the thing they’re expected to do: “find drugs.” If the dog knows it can perform an act for a reward, it will perform that act, whether or not drugs are present. Unfortunately, there’s a deliberate dearth of data when it comes to drug-sniffing dog fallibility. Tracking this data would undercut the dogs’ raison d’etre: to act as probable cause for warrantless searches. This lack of data makes challenging drug dog “alerts” in court almost impossible.

    • Finnish hacker [sic] Lauri Love appeals against extradition to US

      A verdict in the case is expected early next year.

      [...]

      The electrical engineering student’s previous extradition order was overturned by then-Minister of the Interior, Theresa May in 2012.

    • “Believe All Women”? No. Believe In Due Process To Sort Things Out — If They Are Sortable

      We may not always be able to punish the guilty, but that is the cost of having a society where we take great care to avoid punishing the innocent, with laws supporting due process.

    • 6 Things You Learn After Shooting A Cop (In Self-Defense)

      The home, they condemned the home and then sold it. The city sold it. This is his family home. And it’s by no means beautiful, but it’s what they owned. I think they got, like, $17k for the family home.”

    • Police commissioner: Slain Baltimore detective was to testify in case of indicted officers

      The revelation brings together two cases that have sent shock waves through the Police Department and the city as a whole: the federal prosecutions of eight members of the department’s elite gun task force, who are accused of shaking down citizens and conspiring with drug dealers, and the killing of Suiter last week in West Baltimore, the first of an on-duty officer by a suspect in 10 years.

    • Closing down a country: the Islamabad stand-off

      The Islamabad High Court in its proceedings on Monday morning criticised the Interior Minister for giving the military the role of “mediator”, especially since the military had turned down the civilian government’s request to intervene earlier. The judge asked: “Where does the law assign this role to a general?” The rather brave judge said that this was “proof of the military’s involvement”.

      Even this tiny incident in Islamabad allows one to make a number of observations about the political economy of Pakistan: religious groups and parties are far better organised and committed than their liberal cousins, and civil society;

    • U.S. Coast Guard operating secret floating prisons in Pacific Ocean

      In an effort to staunch the flow of cocaine and other hard drugs from South America to Central America and points north, Coast Guard cutters have been deployed farther and farther from the shore in the Pacific Ocean. When these cutters capture a boat carrying drugs, the smugglers are brought onto the ships and kept shackled to the deck, sometimes outside in the elements, until the Coast Guard makes arrangements for them to be transported back to the U.S. for trial.

    • The disappeared

      The men, who CNN spoke to in detail over the course of the last 12 months, describe being forcibly taken from their homes, detained for weeks, sometimes months, in secret prisons, denied communication with family and legal representation, strong-armed into making videotaped confessions, and ultimately released without being convicted of a single crime.

    • 3 Muslim clerics with human parts arrested in Oyo
    • Female Genital Mutilation Happening to an Alarming Number of U.S. Girls
    • Butter knife or sharp blade? Either way, FGM survivors in Sri Lanka want it to stop
    • Should Americans excuse FGM as a minority cultural practice?
    • Survivors’ group writes to Modi seeking ban on FGM

      Mumbai: We Speak Out, a group of female genital mutilation (FGM) survivors, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to declare FGM as illegal in India. The group said their plea is in keeping with the United Nation’s sustainable development goal of eradicating FGM in all countries by 2030.

    • Mosque gives University of Cincinnati $1M to teach more about Islam
    • Beating wives if they refuse sex is OK, according to books in Britain’s Islamic schools
    • It’s OK to beat your wife, says Islamic school book
    • Pakistan Islamists claim victory after law minister resigns

      Under the deal, the Islamists also agreed not to issue a fatwa, or Muslim edict that could endanger Hamid. The minister’s home in eastern Punjab province was twice attacked by Islamists in recent days though he was not there at the time.

    • Army, religious extremists return to centre in Pakistan

      Leave alone the minorities in Pakistan, this deal firmly puts an end to any wayward hopes the Ahmadiya Muslim community in Pakistan may have begun to entertain of being equal to their fellow Muslims.

    • Pakistan army negotiates deal with mullah brigade, undermines govt

      It was the beginning of the end of the Pakistani state as we know it this weekend, as the mullah brigade and the Army joined hands to assert their power over the state.

    • Pakistan army called on to stop ‘blasphemy’ clashes in Islamabad

      The protesters have been blocking the highway for several weeks, demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid whom they accuse of blasphemy.

      [...]

      The protesting Islamists, from the hardline Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Party, want the law minister to be sacked for omitting a reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a new version of the electoral oath.

    • Amnesty Decries ‘Gruesome’ Torture Tool Find at Paris Fair

      Human rights group Amnesty International says its staff have found torture equipment for sale at a military and police trade fair in Paris in contravention of European Union laws.

    • Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for same crimes: study

      The group’s analysis of sentencing data for whites and blacks between the years 2008 and 2016 revealed that black men serve sentences that are on average 19.1 percent longer than the average length of sentences for white men.

    • Islamic radical protesters take to the street: “Put Asia Bibi to death”
    • Swedish city of Oskarshamn, now offers armed police to escort joggers after dark
    • Swedish Minister of Justice: Men rape – not immigrants

      A report released by BRÅ in 1996 showed that people from certain immigrant groups, especially from the Arab world, are very over-represented as perpetrators in rapes. Some of them have an over-representation of 20. The number of men with a background in the Arab world has risen sharply in Sweden in recent decades – but the issue has become taboo and BRÅ has since the 1990s chosen not to follow up the connection between ethnic background and the inclination to rape.

    • Men are not a different species

      Yet gender determinism is curiously back in fashion (as is racial determinism, with the rhetoric about the ‘problem with whiteness’). It has become normal to talk of ‘men’ as a problematic category, as if all ‘men’ are potential or actual sexual predators, as if we are a coherent category of automatons, confined by those inverted commas. When Caitlin Moran concluded her Times column on Saturday speaking about ‘the problem of men’, she summed up a mainstream sentiment. It’s astonishing that it needs saying these days that this is no different to talking about the ‘problem of women’ or the problem of ‘the blacks’.

    • Crimes reach record high in Sweden years after refugee crisis – report

      The 2016 crime rate is said to be the highest one recorded since the Bra started conducting its annual crime surveys. The report went on to say that the number of harassment, sexual offenses and fraud cases saw the biggest increase over recent years.
      Out of six types of offenses mentioned in the survey, five rose to their highest level on record in 2016. The number of assault cases reached its second-highest level over a decade, the report shows.

    • Many cybercrime cases not investigated

      Illegal gain (5,987 incidents) and revenge (1,056) were the two top motives that accounted for cybercrimes. Sexual exploitation (686), insulting the modesty of women (569) and causing disrepute (448) constituted 13% of the crimes.

      [...]

      There were 6,818 cases registered under various sections of the Information Technology Act that pertains to sending offensive and false information.

    • Video Reveals Alleged Slave Market in Libya
    • People for sale: Where lives are auctioned for $400

      “They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” Hazam says. “(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”

    • ‘We are going to kill you’: Villagers in Burma recount violence by Rohingya Muslim militants

      Shortly thereafter, a group of Saudi-based Rohingya expatriates formed the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, according to a December report from the International Crisis Group. Its leaders eventually traveled to the area to recruit and surreptitiously train villagers in guerrilla war tactics, the report said.

    • In Saudi Arabia a man was arrested for talking to a woman
    • Gangs ‘using TASERS on schoolgirl rape victims as Birmingham faces tsunami of child sexual exploitation’
    • Child rapes up 82% in 2016, UP records a 400% jump
    • Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws

      Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women’s rights back 50 years.

    • Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith

      This clash of cultures began in the 1980s, when then-President Suharto gave land and incentives to migrants from overcrowded Java to move and open up the jungles of Sumatra.

    • Writing to survive: Baha’i woman’s poetry was her best friend in Iranian jail

      Iranian authorities released Sabet from her jail cell a day ahead of schedule at a little after 5 p.m., the deadline for prisoners to make their last phone calls of the day. The move was deliberate, she believes, to keep her homecoming quiet and largely removed from media glare. She had become, after all, internationally known.

    • French academic: ‘Introduce Sharia law, create Muslim state to avoid civil war’
    • Germany, Austria: Imams Warn Muslims Not to Integrate

      “While outside the mosque there is constant talk of integration, the opposite is preached inside. Only in rare instances are parts of the sermon — or even more rarely, all of the sermon — translated into German…” — Constantin Schreiber, author of Inside Islam: What Is Being Preached in Germany’s Mosques.

    • Interrogators Blast Trump’s ‘Clueless’ CIA Pick Tom Cotton

      The Central Intelligence Agency is set to receive an advocate of waterboarding, sweeping surveillance powers, jailing journalists, and conflict with Iran as its next director.

      A combat veteran and first-term Arkansas GOP senator, Tom Cotton has wasted little time building his twin reputations as one of the Senate’s hardest hardliners and friendliest Donald Trump allies. In one of his earliest Senate soundbites, he rebuked a Pentagon official in 2015 for the failed plan to close Guantanamo Bay, saying its detainees should “rot in hell.”

    • Arizona: Border Patrol Kills Migrant on Tohono O’odham Reservation

      In Arizona, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed an undocumented migrant in a remote mountainous region on the Tohono O’odham Nation on Wednesday. The shooting occurred about 20 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson sector is claiming, without evidence, that the shooting occurred after the man grabbed the gun of one of the agents. Migrant justice groups are demanding the killing be investigated.

    • ‘We never thought we’d be believed’

      For the last several years, Morgan Marquis-Boire was widely considered a rock star of the cybersecurity world. He was known as one of the “good guys,” an activist committed to progressive causes and the protection of digital privacy and human rights. Within the goth scene in Auckland, New Zealand, he DJed at goth events, where his bombastic personality and good looks earned him popularity and notoriety within a small and insular subculture.

      But for me, and for many people in that scene, he also had a very different reputation: as a man who liked to sexually assault young women.

    • Garrison Keillor: ‘I put my hand on a woman’s bare back’

      Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) said a colleague on Keillor’s former show, A Prairie Home Companion, had accused him of inappropriate behaviour.
      Mr Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the claim stems from an occasion when he put his hand on a woman’s bare back to console her.
      The station said it did not know of any allegations involving any other staff.

    • French Secularists Push Back: Street Prayer Confrontations Are Growing

      In fact, things are getting so testy that Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has intervened. In a move meant to quell secularist anger over religion creeping into society, France announced an immediate halt to street prayer in the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne. “They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Collomb told Questions Politics. (Source: French Muslims in Paris suburb left with nowhere to pray as street worshipping is banned, The National, November 20, 2017.)

    • Islam: A giant step backwards for humanity
    • Hadiya Is No Longer A Person, But An Issue: ‘Political Hindus Vs Political Muslims’

      Hadiya’s win is definitely a win for herself and a victory of constitutional rights; but the unfortunate aspect is that it is also a victory of Islamic fundamentalists as well as the Hindutva forces.

    • Towards Nazi Australia

      The international trend in first world countries towards right wing populist politics is symptomatic of rising insecurity and inequality. Each context has its own specific topography whilst there are underlying dynamics that seem common to all. It may surprise you to learn how far down this trajectory Australia has gone this century. Observers of international human rights know about this, as do figures like Donald Trump who looks on Australia’s inhumane treatment of “illegal” refugees with envy. Alas, the story needs to be told such that hopefully Australians will develop a conscience and the rest of the world might be warned.

      The title I gave this piece – Nazi Australia – was deliberately provocative. This is a function of desperation, but, alas, also of reality. For there are hundreds of men on Manus Island (PNG) whom the Australian government has placed in interminable limbo, and psychological and physical danger, so as to maintain an absolute deterrence against “illegal” asylum seekers. The Australian government simply stonewalls all calls by outraged citizens for humane action. So, there is need to call out this stonewalling in very shrill terms. Even so, the claims I am making are very serious, and this will require me to set the argument up carefully.

    • Facebook Can’t Clean Up Ad Discrimination on Its Own

      Facebook has admitted a serious problem with the platform’s advertising function that is allowing racial discrimination on its site. But there is a way to fix it — if the company is willing.

      In the spring of 2016, Facebook rolled out its “ethnic affinity” feature, which allowed advertisers to target Facebook users labeled as African American, Latino, or Asian American based upon their behavior on Facebook. Advertisers could opt to include or to exclude users in these categories. Facebook said that these labels were not equivalent to race because they were based not on users’ actual racial identities, but on whether they engaged with Facebook pages associated with those racial communities. Nonetheless, it identified the categories as “demographics” in its options for advertisers.

      The system made it easy to exclude users marked as African American from seeing ads for anything, including job postings and credit or housing opportunities. Yet civil rights laws like the Fair Housing Act make this kind of discriminatory advertising illegal.

      In October 2016, ProPublica was able to place a housing-related ad that targeted house hunters and those likely to move, excluding users marked as African American, Asian American, or Hispanic. The story prompted an immediate outcry. The Congressional Black Caucus contacted Facebook, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which enforces fair housing laws, said the revelations raised “serious concerns.”

      Make no mistake, this is not simply an advertising problem — this is a civil rights problem made all the more dangerous by social media’s technological advances. Online personalization opens up significant possibilities for discrimination against marginalized communities, including people of color and other members of protected classes. In the offline world, we have thankfully moved past the era of housing advertisements that explicitly stated that people of certain races, religions, or ethnicities could not apply. But with behavioral targeting online, discrimination no longer requires that kind of explicit statement. Instead, a property manager can simply display ads for housing only to white people, or Christians, or those without disabilities.

    • The Trump Administration Just Admitted a Secretly Detained American Has Asked for a Lawyer – But It Won’t Give Him One

      An American being held without charges by the U.S. military in Iraq has asked for an attorney, the ACLU finally learned last night following an extraordinary court hearing. The government is resisting our efforts to make contact with the man so he can challenge his detention, in an outrageous violation of the basic rights guaranteed to every American by the Constitution.

      The military has held the “unnamed detainee” — as the government refers to him in its filings — somewhere in Iraq since mid-September as an “enemy combatant” for allegedly fighting in Syria with ISIS (although the government hasn’t presented any evidence of that). The Pentagon and Justice Department ignored our initial request to offer him legal assistance. We then filed a habeas corpus petition on his behalf in court in Washington, demanding that the government justify the man’s detention.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • ISPs Are Already Using The FCC’s Planned Net Neutrality Repeal To Harm Consumers

      So if you’ve been reading Techdirt, you know that the FCC’s myopic assault on net neutrality is just a small part of a massive, paradigm-shifting handout to the uncompetitive telecom sector that could have a profoundly negative impact on competition, innovation, privacy, and consumer welfare for the next decade.
      The government telecom industry’s plan goes something like this: gut nearly all FCC oversight of giant ISPs (including the modest privacy protections killed earlier this year), then shovel any dwindling remaining authority to an FTC that lacks the authority or resources to actually protect competition, businesses and consumers. If any states get the crazy idea to step in and try to fill in the consumer protection gaps, the FCC (again, at Comcast and Verizon’s lobbying behest) has clearly stated it will try and use federal authority to slap them down (so much for that dedication to “states rights” applied only when convenient).
      You should, hopefully, see how this could pose problems for anybody other than Charter, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. In fact, Charter lawyers this week are already providing us with a look at precisely what this is going to look like in practice.
      You might recall that earlier this year, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Charter for effectively ripping off consumers. Among the numerous charges levied in the complaint (pdf) was the fact that Charter falsely advertised speeds it couldn’t deliver, used all manner of misleading fees to jack up the cost of advertised services (something it’s facing other lawsuits over), and may have manipulated peering point capacity to force content and transit operators into paying more money.

    • Bogus Emails and Bee Movie: Digging Into the FCC’s Broken Net Neutrality Comments

      The Pew researchers detected other unusual behavior, like the fact that on June 19, nearly 500,000 comments were submitted in a single second. In that case, nearly all were identical and associated with battleforthenet.com, suggesting its organizers bulk-uploaded all of the comments to the FCC’s site at that time. But on May 24, they found more than 86,000 comments submitted in a single second. They all conveyed the same sentiment, but this time, the language different slightly, following a pattern that other researchers recently told WIRED may have been generated by bots.

    • How to Make Sense of Net Neutrality and Telecom Under Trump
    • Net Neutrality Needs You as Much as You Need It

      The battle for net neutrality is ramping into high gear, as we anticipate an FCC vote on December 14 to either confirm or reject Chairman Pai’s draft order to undermine the 2015 Open Internet Order. With the future of the Internet, its capacity to continue fostering innovation, and freedom of expression online hanging in the balance, EFF encourages Internet users to speak out–both online and in the streets–to defend net neutrality.

    • AT&T wants you to forget that it blocked FaceTime over cellular in 2012

      AT&T’s push to end net neutrality rules continued yesterday in a blog post that says the company has never blocked third-party applications and that it won’t do so even after the rules are gone.

    • Net neutrality activists just took over Reddit with protest posts

      If you visit the reddit.com home page today expecting to see the usual mix of news stories and entertaining cat memes, you’re likely to see something very different: a wall of posts naming and shaming members of Congress—mostly Republicans—who have taken money from the telecommunications industry.

      “This is my Senator, Ron Johnson,” reads the headline for the top post when we checked reddit.com on Friday afternoon. “He sold me, my fellow Wisconsinites, and this nation, to the telecom lobby for the price of $123,652.”

      Posts further down shame John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), and other members of Congress using virtually identical language.

    • Comcast to customers: Just trust us about changed net neutrality pledges

      Comcast is defending its changed net neutrality pledges in the face of criticism from Internet users.

      The deletion of a net neutrality promise immediately after the Federal Communications Commission started repealing its net neutrality rules is just a “language” change, the company says. Comcast is telling customers that it still has no plans to institute paid prioritization—while avoiding a promise that it won’t do so in the future.

      We wrote a story Monday about recent changes to Comcast’s net neutrality promises and followed up on Wednesday with further details.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Epic Sues 14 Year Old It Accuses Of Cheating In Videogames After He Counternotices a DMCA On His YouTube Video

        We called it. When Blizzard decided several years ago to try to twist copyright law into one hell of a pretzel in the name of going after video game cheaters, we said it was going to open the the door to other developers and publishers abusing the law in the same way. Blizzard’s theory is that using a cheat in its games, particularly in its multiplayer games, was a violation of the EULA and created a copyright violation when the cheater continued to play the game he or she only “licensed.” A deep dive into the actual substance of the copyright claims reveals them to be laughable, except Blizzard is rarely joined in court by its defendants, so no challenge to its pretzel-theory of copyright is ever put forward. Shortly after all of this, Riot Games joined in on this fun, deciding to apply the well-salted pretzel copyright logic to groups making cheats for League of Legends.

      • Europe Needs to Save Itself From Internet Upload Filters

        Upload filters would chip away at the internet’s role as a public space for everyone. The internet would increasingly come to resemble cable TV, where it’s up to a few big companies to decide what goes on air.

        It’s time to speak up against these plans—while we can still do so unfiltered.

      • Seven Years of Hadopi: Nine Million Piracy Warnings, 189 Convictions

        French anti-piracy agency Hadopi has just released its latest results revealing that since its inception, nine million piracy warnings have been sent to citizens. Since the launch of the graduated response regime in 2010, more than 2,000 cases have been referred to prosecutors, resulting in 189 criminal convictions. But with new forms of piracy under the spotlight, there’s still plenty to be done.

      • European Commission Steps Up Fight Against Online Piracy

        The European Commission is determined to step up the fight against online piracy and counterfeiting. To achieve this, it will support voluntary agreements to cut off revenue to piracy sites, while also exploring new blockchain-based anti-piracy technologies. In addition, the Commission provides detailed guidance on how current legislation should be interpreted.

      • YouTube Begins Blocking Music in Finland Due to Licensing Failure (Updated)

        Internet users in Finland are waking up to a degraded YouTube experience this morning, with many videos displaying a message explaining that they cannot be played in the country. According to YouTube, this is because the company couldn’t reach a licensing deal with local performance rights organization Teosto.

        [...]

        Like other groups in the same position, Teosto is looking to obtain more revenue for its members. That seems to be the basis for the dispute with YouTube

The European Patent Office No Longer Acts Like a Patent Office But a Prosecutor

Saturday 2nd of December 2017 12:40:50 PM

Prosecution ‘industry’ served, not the real industry

Summary: With Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), Unitary Patent (UPC) and “early certainty” it seems clear that the EPO’s objectives are not aligned with those representative of a proper, functioning patent office

THE EPO continues trying — however futile this effort may seem — to distract from any meaningful discussion about the crisis. The "SME" nonsense (not a new thing), for example, was repeated once again yesterday. It was repeated pretty much every single day in November. “How can a business leverage the power of patents and other IP rights to achieve business success?” Those are the sorts of loaded questions brought up every day by the EPO. It has become too tiring to even bother responding to them.

“The UPC is going nowhere, but Bristows keeps spreading fake news about it.”“The objective of the study,” wrote the EPO in another tweet, “is to assess the role played by the current European patent system,” linking to the so-called ‘study’ which is not objective and has already been debunked. It’s the EPO-commissioned propaganda for the EPO and its UPC lobby.

Two days ago we wrote about the latest fake news about the UPC. Check out this comment that says “K. Mooney, W. Pors and consorts have been ridden by an illness called “wishful thinking”.”

To quote the whole comment (JJ is Jo Johnson):

When JJ is talking about negotiations re post Brexit stay of the UK in the UPC, it clearly means that all those claiming that the stay is easy to obtain (K. Mooney, W. Pors and consorts) have been ridden by an illness called “wishful thinking”.

It is understandable that they see big profits flowing away, so that self illusion is an attempt to overcome the loss. The more so since they have invested a lot of time and efforts in devising the RoP of the UPC.

It would be better if they would come back to reality rather than trying to pull wool over our eyes!

The UPC is going nowhere, but Bristows keeps spreading fake news about it. Yesterday it wrote about Belgium. This is nothing noteworthy (of progress); it’s a meaningless move, as Belgium has, by Bristows’ own admission, “already ratified the UPC Agreement, and has made a declaration regarding its provisional application.”

“The agenda of the EPO, as set in stone by the UPC, is worse than malignant. It may be fatal to Europe’s producing industries (as opposed to some law firms in England and Germany).”Quite frankly, it no longer surprises us that Team UPC and Team Battistelli are lying so much. Both are rife with abuse. Check out yesterday’s EPO puff piece about Brazil and Tunisia (warning: epo.org link), former Portuguese and French colonies, respectively (the next EPO President is a dual Portuguese/French national, as we noted in relation to the validation agreements with Tunisia and Angola, another former Portuguese colony where his father had been born).

This time it’s about the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), which speeds up examination at the expense of meticulous analysis. To quote the EPO: “Two major [sic] agreements signed by the EPO with Brazil and Tunisia will enter into force today. The agreements will mean new services for companies and inventors from Europe and the two countries and support innovation through legally robust patents.”

How many European Patents even come from Tunisia? How many patent applications? Brazil, in spite of its large population side, isn’t so major a player either. So for the EPO to call these “major agreements” with a straight face? Come on…

As someone pointed out in the 14th and last comment this week:

Even it might be legal, it is simply unbelievable to go from the much heralded “early certainty” into “long term uncertainty”.

If it should be necessary it shows how badly the EPO is managed!

The document linked to by head down is a paper introduced in 2009 by 3 member states two of which,DE and NL had deferred examination. It was an attempt to resolve the backlog problem, may be a first instance level, but does not work at the BA level.

If files are under deferred examination, they will not any longer appear in the statistics. This a clear attempt to cheat, as the secret hope is that lot of these applications will be withdrawn at one moment or the other.

It is not sure that the member state will be willing to wait to have their share of the renewal fees.

Wait and see if the new chairman of the AC will accept to put the proposal of the agenda of the AC. Bad management should be sanctioned, certainly not encouraged!

This relates to the UPC in the sense that the envisioned system passes or ‘offloads’ the task of proper patent examination to courts, where fees are humongous and the language spoken may not been understood at all by the defendants.

The agenda of the EPO, as set in stone by the UPC, is worse than malignant. It may be fatal to Europe’s producing industries (as opposed to some law firms in England and Germany). The “official languages”, which oddly enough include French but not Spanish, tell quite a lot about who would literally profit from the destruction of one’s own national scientific sector.

Qualcomm, BlackBerry and Nokia Are Being Reduced to Mere Patent Trolls Without Any Products, Only Patents

Saturday 2nd of December 2017 10:40:37 AM

Summary: A roundup of legal action in the domain of mobile phones and other mobile devices; a growing wave of patent-assertion activity is observed, led by companies that no longer make any devices (they do patent licensing instead)

THE world of mobile devices is rife with surveillance and patents. A lot of hardware patents are still valid because of the age of such devices. As for software patents, many of these exist too. They may not be valid, but some got granted and are due to be tested properly in a court.

“The world of mobile devices is rife with surveillance and patents.”Qualcomm is a bully with hardware patents and software patents. Qualcomm hardly makes anything and it is so financially dependent on patent ‘protection’ money that it’s willing to do this [1, 2] to Apple. “The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm over patents is part of a wide-ranging legal war between the two companies.”

“The other two cases are civil patent infringement lawsuits,” says the report. We’ve written about this dispute many times before. But it’s not just Qualcomm that’s playing this game. Nokia too is running out of market share and all it seems interested in right now is ‘protection’ money (e.g. from Apple and now BlackBerry).

“Don’t forget that BlackBerry too is increasingly turning to litigation (and/or threat thereof) to grab any money it can before the patents expire and the company declares its seemingly inevitable bankruptcy.”BlackBerry is going down fast. Its revenue completely collapsed in just a few years and after 3 decades (the company is a lot older than people care to realise) it looks like the end is nigh.

“BlackBerry to pay Nokia $137 million in payment dispute,” a very recent report said. To quote: “Canada’s BlackBerry has been ordered to pay Nokia $137 million by an international court in a payment dispute, but the Canadian company said it would continue to pursue a separate claim over patent infringement.”

“What good are patents when exploited by a company that no longer creates anything?”Don’t forget that BlackBerry too is increasingly turning to litigation (and/or threat thereof) to grab any money it can before the patents expire and the company declares its seemingly inevitable bankruptcy.

If patents were supposed to spur innovation in this area, how come news is dominated by calls for embargo, extortion and so on? What good are patents when exploited by a company that no longer creates anything? Or barely anything. What is the societal benefit?

Ignore IAM’s Jaw-Dropping Spin, Tencent Flourished in Spite of Patents, Not Thanks to Them

Saturday 2nd of December 2017 09:26:55 AM

Summary: The real news about Tencent has been exploited and twisted by the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), which attempts to falsely attribute success to patents

IAM is more or less a think tank for patent trolls and various aggressors. It sets up lobbying events, sometimes even for the EPO, and it pushes a toxic agenda which is clearly very harmful to science and technology.

Yesterday IAM outdid itself and sank to new lows. IAM’s staff (what’s left of it anyway) saw some news about a company in China becoming big and decided to spin that as “patents” (the company succeeded in spite of patents, not thanks to them). The headline is laughable and it’s just the latest fantasy from the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM). It wants us to think companies succeed only thanks to patents. To quote some portions:

In the hottest Hong Kong IPO in a decade, shares of China Literature surged over 90% in their trading debut earlier this month. The wild success of Tencent’s digital publishing business with investors is just the latest success for the Shenzhen-based internet giant, which recently became the first Asian tech company to reach a total value of over $500 billion – joining the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet. The China Literature listing is a good example of how Tencent has deployed an IP strategy that goes well beyond patents to drive big revenues.

[...]

Patents have also supported Tencent’s move into the market for mobile and video games, where it has used M&A to become a major global force. A 2015 analysis found Tencent to be the most important holder of Chinese patents in the field, with other big powers including Huawei, ZTE and Microsoft. Thus far, the gaming segment seems to be the one that has precipitated the most overseas patent conflict for Tencent.

IAM then admits, only at the very end, that it’s not even about patents, as the company does not have many patents compared to smaller companies:

Tencent may not have quite the profile in the patent world that Chinese telecoms and other tech companies with more overseas business do, but the numbers show that it’s an important local player.

Lying is sometimes an art. IAM is artistic in the sense that it takes a subject which has nothing to do with patents and then turns that into patent maximalists’ propaganda.

In Oil States Case, Consensus on All Sides is That PTAB Will Endure

Saturday 2nd of December 2017 08:40:33 AM

Summary: The Oil States v Greene’s Energy case, which the US Supreme Court deals with at the moment, looks likely to leave the Patent Trial and Appeal Board stronger than ever (enshrined in law and defended by the highest court)

SEVERAL days ago we noted that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) would be fine, at least judging by the way hearings were going. The hearings started 5 days ago. We soon saw that even foes of PTAB were willing to admit that PTAB would be fine. The main question is, will the decision be unanimous or not?

A few days ago CCIA correctly noted that the Justices would likely defend PTAB unless something shocking happens. It also quoted or alluded to the words of Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kagan:

The Oil States case focuses on whether it’s constitutional for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to review the validity of a patent after they issue it—whether the PTO can go back and double-check its own work, in other words.

Generally, the Justices (other than Justice Gorsuch, who made his position clear—but didn’t see much support for it from other Justices) seem comfortable with the PTO doing this. While a few expressed concerns about specific procedural aspects of IPR, there was little real concern about whether it was appropriate to have this kind of double-check of an agency’s own work.

Justice Gorsuch appears to feel that IPR is inappropriate, but the other Justices appear inclined to uphold it as constitutional even as they continue to signal that they want to monitor the procedure to make sure it’s being conducted fairly.

IPR seems likely to remain available as a fast, accurate, and efficient procedure for reviewing weak patents.

[...]

In other words, at least based on this comment, Justice Kagan is suggesting that sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to IPRs.

As one might expect, the patent microcosm’s sites (behind paywall in this case) also cover this case regarding PTAB’s future, but they only quote lawyers, i.e. the patent microcosm. Here is what one such site wrote: “US Supreme Court Justices seemed divided during arguments for Oil States v Greene’s Energy and SAS Institute v Matal. Patent lawyers have been busy making predictions about how the court will rule in the two cases, which could dramatically change how the Patent Trial and Appeal Board operates…”

Well, now we know that neither case it going to change anything substantial. But the patent microcosm is trying to create uncertainty; it wants to assure clients that they should continue pursuing lots of patents, even in an environment which is increasingly sceptical towards these.

Links 1/12/2017: Qt 3D Studio 1.0, KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond, Alpine Linux 3.7

Friday 1st of December 2017 10:57:52 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • System76 will disable Intel Management engine on its Linux laptops

      System76 is one a handful of companies that sells computers that run Linux software out of the box. But like most PCs that have shipped with Intel’s Core processors in the past few years, System76 laptops include Intel’s Management Engine firmware.

      Intel recently confirmed a major security vulnerability affecting those chips and it’s working with PC makers to patch that vulnerability.

      But System76 is taking another approach: it’s going to roll out a firmware update for its recent laptops that disables the Intel Management Engine altogether.

    • System76 Will Begin Disabling Intel ME In Their Linux Laptops

      Following the recent Intel Management Engine (ME) vulnerabilities combined with some engineering work the past few months on their end, System76 will begin disabling ME on their laptops.

    • Linux hardware vendor outlines Intel Management Engine firmware plan

      The Linux-equipped computer maker, System76, has detailed plans to update the Intel Management Engine (ME) firmware on its computers in line with Intel’s November 20th vulnerability announcement. In July, System76 began work on a project to automatically deliver firmware to System76 laptops which works in a similar fashion to how software is usually delivered through the operating system.

    • System76 to disable Intel Management Engine on its notebooks

      Intel has recently confirmed the earlier findings of third parties who revealed that its Management Engine firmware has some serious security issues. Since we talked about this recently, we should now move to System76′s approach in handling this situation.

  • Server
    • Docker for Data Science

      Docker is a tool that simplifies the installation process for software engineers. Coming from a statistics background I used to care very little about how to install software and would occasionally spend a few days trying to resolve system configuration issues. Enter the god-send Docker almighty.

      Think of Docker as a light virtual machine (I apologise to the Docker gurus for using that term). Generally someone writes a *Dockerfile* that builds a *Docker Image* which contains most of the tools and libraries that you need for a project. You can use this as a base and add any other dependencies that are required for your project. Its underlying philosophy is that if it works on my machine it will work on yours.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.14.3
    • Linux 4.9.66
    • Linux 4.4.103
    • Linux 3.18.85
    • Four new stable kernels

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 4.14.3, 4.9.66, 4.4.103, and 3.18.85 stable kernels. As usual, they contain fixes throughout the tree; users of those series should upgrade.

    • A Closed-Source Apple File-System APFS Driver For Linux Announced

      With macOS High Sierra finally ditching the HFS+ file-system and switching all macOS users over to Apple’s new file-system, APFS, you may find the need to read a APFS file-system from another non-macOS device. Now it’s possible with an APFS Linux file-system driver, but it’s closed-source and doesn’t yet have write capabilities.

      Paragon Software who has also developed a commercial Microsoft ReFS Linux file-system driver as well as an EXT4 driver for Windows has now developed an Apple File-System (APFS) driver for Linux systems.

    • Linux Foundation
      • What OPNFV Makes Possible in Open Source

        OPNFV provides both tangible and intangible benefits to end users. Tangible benefits include those that directly impact business metrics, whereas the intangibles include benefits that speed up the overall NFV transformation journey but are harder to measure. The nature of the OPNFV project, where it primarily focuses on integration and testing of upstream projects and adds carrier-grade features to these upstream projects, can make it difficult to understand these benefits.

        To understand this more clearly, let’s go back to the era before OPNFV. Open source projects do not, as a matter of routine, perform integration and testing with other open source projects. So, the burden of taking multiple disparate projects and making the stack work for NFV primarily fell on Communications Service Providers (CSPs), although in some cases vendors shouldered part of the burden. For CSPs or vendors to do the same integration and testing didn’t make sense.

      • The Evolving Developer Advocate Role — A Conversation with Google’s Kim Bannerman

        At this year’s Cloud Foundry Summit Europe, the story was about developers as the heroes. They’re the ones who make the platforms. They are akin to the engineers who played such a pivotal role in designing the railroads, or in modern times made the smartphone possible. This means a more important role for developer advocates who, at organizations such as Google, are spending a lot more time with customers. These are the subject matter experts helping developers build out their platforms. They are gathering data to develop feedback loops that flow back into open source communities for ongoing development.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA Confirms Linux Driver Performance Regression, To Be Fixed In 390 Series

        If you think recent NVIDIA Linux driver releases have been slowing down your games, you are not alone, especially if you are running with a GeForce graphics card having a more conservative vRAM capacity by today’s standards.

        Long time ago Nouveau contributor turned NVIDIA Linux engineer Arthur Huillet confirmed there is a bug in their memory management introduced since their 378 driver series that is still present in the latest 387 releases.

      • NVIDIA has confirmed a driver bug resulting in a loss of performance on Linux

        It seems there’s a performance bug in recent NVIDIA drivers that has been causing a loss of performance across likely all GPUs. Not only that, but it seems to end up using more VRAM than previous drivers too.

        User HeavyHDx started a thread on the official NVIDIA forum, to describe quite a big drop in performance since the 375 driver series. So all driver updates since then would have been affected by this.

      • NVIDIA’s New Memory Allocator Project To Be Standalone, Undecided On Name

        Following NVIDIA’s call for feedback on their effort to create a new device memory allocator API that would be of equal use to the upstream open-source drivers and potentially replace (or indirectly used by) the Wayland compositors in place of the existing GBM API and NVIDIA’s failed EGLStreams Wayland push, their next steps continue to be formulated.

      • NVIDIA’s Current Linux Driver Is Hungry For vRAM This Holiday

        With a NVIDIA Linux developer having confirmed a current driver performance regression affecting driver releases since the 378 series and not being worked around until the yet-to-be-released 390.xx beta driver, I decided to carry out some tests.

      • Nvidia Driver Problems: Bug Causes Performance Loss For Linux Users

        Graphics card maker Nvidia confirmed what gamers have suspected for some time: the company’s products experience a significant loss in performance on Linux operating systems, and Nvidia drivers appear to be the culprit.

      • AMD Announces The Radeon Software Adrenalin Driver

        AMD’s embargo has just expired over the name of their new driver.

        This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but AMD has been pushing out big annual updates to their “Radeon Software” graphics driver the past few years. In December they will be shipping the successor to Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 3D Studio 1.0 Released

        We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 1.0 has now been released. Qt 3D Studio provides a 3D user interface authoring system that caters for both software developers and graphic designers.

      • Qt 3D Studio 1.0 Released, Powered By NVIDIA’s Open-Source Code

        The Qt Company is today shipping Qt 3D Studio, its new 3D user-interface authoring system for both developers and designers.

        Qt 3D Studio 1.0 has a Studio Editor for creating interactive 3D presentations and applications, the Qt 3D Studio Viewer for testing new 3D designs in action, and is supported across Windows / macOS / Linux.

        Of course, this new 3D Studio is powered by the Qt5 tool-kit. This new software package is made possible and based upon NVIDIA’s huge code contribution to Qt earlier this year of opening the NVIDIA DRIVE Design Studio that became the basis for Qt 3D Studio.

      • KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond
      • KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond

        The KDE community has spoken and it has chosen the proposals which will define the general direction of the KDE project over the next three or four years.

        How does the KDE community decide where it wants to take the project? Well, every once in a while, we hold a Request for Proposals, if you will. All members of the community are encouraged to submit their grand ideas which will lay out long-term targets. Proposals are voted on democratically, again, by the community. This ensures it is truly the community that guides the KDE project to wherever the community wants it to go.

      • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa

        Elisa project has now an official mailing list hosted by kde (Elisa mailing list). Alexander Stippich is now a regular KDE developer and we felt a list was good to coordinate work on Elisa. I am also very happy, to nine years after I joined KDE, to have the honor to recommend somebody. I still remember how excited I was at that time.

        Following blog post from Kevin Funk on binary-factory service (KDE binary factory), Elisa windows installers are regularly built. Thanks a lot to the KDE windows contributors. They do a lot of work to help projects like mine.
        2017-11-30 14_28_43-

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Announcing FreeRTOS Kernel Version 10

    The number of connected IoT devices worldwide is in the billions and growing rapidly. Many of these edge devices – from fitness trackers to sensors to washing machines to automotive transmissions – use low-cost, low-powered microcontrollers with extremely limited memory and compute capability. For some IoT use cases, very predictable response times can also be critical (think: automotive). A standard operating system won’t work here: you need a real-time operating system (RTOS) that works in very constrained systems.

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 17.11

    In contrast to most releases, which are focused on one or two major themes, the development during the release cycle of version 17.11 was almost entirely driven by the practical use of Genode as a day-to-day OS by the entire staff of Genode Labs. The basis of this endeavor is an evolving general-purpose system scenario – dubbed “sculpt” – that is planned as an official feature for the next release 18.02. The name “sculpt” hints at the approach to start with a minimalistic generic live system that can be interactively shaped into a desktop scenario by the user without any reboot. This is made possible by combining Genode’s unique dynamic reconfiguration concept with the recently introduced package management, our custom GUI stack, and the many ready-to-use device-driver components that we developed over the past years.

  • Genode OS 17.11 Reworks Its “Nitpicker” GUI Server

    Genode is the open-source operating system framework designed for “highly secure” special-purpose operating systems from embedded platforms to desktops while subscribing to a Unix philosophy and going for an L4 micro-kernel approach. The Genode OS 17.11 represents another quarter’s worth of changes.

    A lot of the work represented by Genode OS 17.11 is on beating the operating system platform into shape to be a day-to-day OS. Among the changes to find is its GUI stack being reworked, scroll-wheel emulation and pointer acceleration finally, other input handling improvements, all x86 micro-kernels now using the GRUB2 boot-loader, Nim programming language usage, and more.

  • How Open Source Will Enable Smart Cities

    Go back a hundred years and services like electricity and running water — let alone phones — would have all been considered luxuries. Now, we see these services as critical infrastructure that could cause a serious threat to life and societal order if they were to break down.

    As the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a bigger part of our world, creating a marriage of software and hardware that ranges from the exceedingly useful to the overly creepy, it is also finding its way into many of the utilities that we depend on for modern living.

    What we define as infrastructure is being rapidly altered by the growth of IoT and the move towards smart cities. We depend on traffic lights, security cameras and garbage removal to keep our cities livable, and we would quickly take notice if these services faltered.

    As these devices and systems start to get brains, they become vulnerable to attacks like Mirai or the one that targeted the Ukrainian power grid. There is the added challenge of how to protect smart infrastructure, recognizing that it has major differences from the way that we defend power plants.

    Historically, critical infrastructure projects have been tougher targets for hackers as their operational technologies (OT) relied on legacy systems that were not widely connected to the internet. As cases such as Stuxnet and more recent cyberattacks on electrical power systems have shown, these systems are vulnerable to external hackers, despite their supposedly high level of security and regulation.

  • Giving the gift of a pull request to an open source project in need

    On December 1st, 24 Pull Requests will be opening its virtual doors once again, asking you to give the gift of a pull request to an open source project in need. Six years ago, inspired by 24 Ways (an advent calendar for web geeks), I decided an advent calendar was a great way to motivate people to contribute to projects. Last year more than 16,000 pull requests were made by nearly 3,000 contributors through the site. And they’re not all by programmers.

    Often the contribution with the most impact might be an improvement to technical documentation, some tests, or even better—guidance for other contributors. The 24 Pull Requests website, for example, started off as a single html page and has received almost 900 pull requests over the years to turn it into the site it is today.

  • NCSA SPIN Intern Daniel Johnson Develops Open Source HPC Python Package

    At the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), undergraduate SPIN (Students Pushing INnovation) intern Daniel Johnson joined NCSA’s Gravity Group to study Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, specifically numerical relativity. Daniel has used the open source, numerical relativity software, the Einstein Toolkit on the Blue Waters supercomputer to numerically solve Einstein’s general relativity equations to study the collision of black holes, and the emission of gravitational waves from these astrophysical events. During his SPIN internship, Daniel developed an open source, Python package to streamline these numerical analyses in high performance computing (HPC) environments.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla releases dataset and model to lower voice-recognition barriers

        Mozilla has released its Common Voice collection, which contains almost 400,000 recordings from 20,000 people, and is claimed to be the second-largest voice dataset publicly available.

        The voice samples in the collection were obtained from Mozilla’s Common Voice project, which allowed users via an iOS app or website to donate their utterances. It is hoped that creating a large public dataset will allow for better voice-enabled applications.

      • Mozilla’s open source voice recognition tool nears human-like accuracy

        Mozilla has released an open source voice recognition tool that it says is “close to human level performance,” and free for developers to plug into their projects.

        The free-software company also on Wednesday released a first set of crowdsourced recordings under its Common Voice project, designed to let anyone train and test machine learning algorithms to recognize speech. The dataset includes almost 400,000 downloadable samples, adding up to 500 hours of speech. More than 20,000 people from around the world have contributed to a call for recordings, which Mozilla hopes will help future voice-powered systems fluently understand a wide variety of accents and types of speech. “We at Mozilla believe technology should be open and accessible to all, and that includes voice,” Mozilla chief executive Sean White wrote in a blog post.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Huge tech leaders come together for open source licensing initiative

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      Red Hat says the move reflects a commitment to providing a fair cure period to correct license compliance issues for GPLv2 software.

      Michael Cunningham, Red Hat executive vice president and general counsel says, “We believe in promoting greater fairness and predictability in license enforcement and the growth of participation in the open source community.

      “We encourage other GPLv2 copyright holders to follow our lead.”

    • Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems

      Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations.

      Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in the most recent GNU General Public License agreement, GPLv3, to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements.

      “There is no procedure in the older GPLs that allowed a licensee to correct his mistakes,” said Lawrence Rosen, an intellectual property attorney at Rosenlaw & Einschlag and former general counsel for the Open Source Initiative.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Managing the Global Commons: Open Source Tools to Support Sustainable Agriculture and Use of the World’s Land and Water Resources in the 21st Century

      Eight of the 17 SDGs are closely tied to food, land and water. Yet these natural resources are already under intense pressure from growing population and rising per capita incomes. Can the future demands for food, fuel, clean water, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and poverty reduction be reconciled? Are we counting on the same hectare of land to satisfy conflicting SDGs? What are the trade-offs of favoring one goal over others? Are there win-win scenarios under which attainment of one SDG will also benefit others? The sustainable development challenge is a particularly ‘wicked’ problem since sustainability is fundamentally a local concept, requiring fine-scale analysis, yet sustainability stresses are often driven by global forces. Furthermore, aggressive pursuit of the SDGs will itself have consequences for global markets.

    • Researchers release open-source dataset offering instructions to build smartphone microscope

      Add one more thing to the list of tasks your smartphone can perform. University of Houston researchers have released an open-source dataset offering instructions to people interested in building their own smartphone microscope.

      [...]

      The work was partially funded with a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s citizen science initiative, which encourages scientists to find ways to expand knowledge of and access to research.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Mathieu Stephan : The Making of a Secure Open Source Hardware Password Keeper

        Mathieu Stephan is an open source hardware developer, a Tindie seller who always has inventory, a former Hackaday writer, and an awesome all-around guy. One of his biggest projects for the last few years has been the Mooltipass, an offline password keeper built around smart cards and a USB interface. It’s the solution to Post-It notes stuck to your monitor and using the same password for all your accounts around the Internet.

        The Mooltipass is an extremely successful product, and last year Mathieu launched the Mooltipass Mini. No, it doesn’t have the sweet illuminated touch-sensitive buttons, but it is a bit cheaper than its big brother and a bit more resistant to physical attacks — something you want in a device that keeps all your passwords secure.

  • Programming/Development
    • Kotlin 1.2 Released: Sharing Code between Platforms

      Today we’re releasing Kotlin 1.2. This is a major new release and a big step on our road towards enabling the use of Kotlin across all components of a modern application.

      In Kotlin 1.1, we officially released the JavaScript target, allowing you to compile Kotlin code to JS and to run it in your browser. In Kotlin 1.2, we’re adding the possibility to reuse code between the JVM and JavaScript. Now you can write the business logic of your application once, and reuse it across all tiers of your application – the backend, the browser frontend and the Android mobile app. We’re also working on libraries to help you reuse more of the code, such as a cross-platform serialization library.

    • PHP 7.2 And Kotlin 1.2 Programming Languages Released

      Kotlin 1.2 Moving to Kotlin–the latest programming language to get official Android support. JetBrains announced Kotlin 1.2 and called it a major release which will let the devs reuse code between JVM and JS.

    • Rcpp now used by 1250 CRAN packages
Leftovers
  • Microsoft is killing off its Office Viewer apps next Spring

    The services, which allow users to read Excel and Powerpoint documents without buying the Office suite, were last updated for the 2007 edition, but are still available now from the Microsoft website.

  • Science
    • Researchers find oddities in high-profile gender studies

      Psychologist Nicolas Guéguen publishes studies that create irresistible headlines. His research investigating the effects of wearing high heels made it into Time: “Science Proves It: Men Really Do Find High Heels Sexier.” The Atlantic has cited his finding that men consider women wearing red to be more attractive. Even The New York Times has covered his work.

      Guéguen’s large body of research is the kind of social psychology that demonstrates, and likely fuels, the Mars vs. Venus model of gender interactions. But it seems that at least some of his conclusions are resting on shaky ground. Since 2015, a pair of scientists, James Heathers and Nick Brown, has been looking closely at the results in Guéguen’s work. What they’ve found raises a litany of questions about statistical and ethical problems. In some cases, the data is too perfectly regular or full of oddities, making it difficult to understand how it could have been generated by the experiment described by Guéguen.

    • This week’s failed Russian rocket had a pretty bad programming error

      On Tuesday morning, a Russian rocket failed to properly deploy the 19 satellites it was carrying into orbit. Instead of boosting its payload, the Soyuz 2.1b rocket’s Fregat upper stage fired in the wrong direction, sending the statellites on a suborbital trajectory instead, burning them up in Earth’s atmosphere.

    • Prehistoric women worked so much their arms were stronger than today’s female rowers

      If you’re a hard-working lady, you probably already suspected what scientists have confirmed today: prehistoric women worked their butts off.

      The bones of 94 women who lived in farming communities in Central Europe from 5300 BCE to around 850 AD reveal that prehistoric women had stronger arms than living women, including semi-elite female rowers. That’s likely because these farming women from the past worked incredibly hard — tilling soil, harvesting, and grinding grain by hand. And they probably started at a very young age, according to a study published today in Science Advances.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Transgenerational Trauma Passed Down from WWII Evacuees

      The daughters of Finnish women separated from their parents as children during World War II have higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization than those born to women who had not been evacuated.

    • WTO General Council Agrees To 2-Year Extension For TRIPS Health Amendment Acceptance

      The World Trade Organization General Council today agreed to a two-year extension for countries to adopt an amendment to the agency’s intellectual property agreement intended to help small economies get affordable medical products. But a decision on non-violation complaints will be left to the December WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires.

    • EU-MERCOSUR FTA Puts At Risk Access To Medicines In Brazil, New Impact Assessment Study Finds

      The European Union (EU) is currently negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), which comprises a chapter on intellectual property rights (IPR). A new round of negotiations is taking place from November 29th to December 8th in Brussels[1]. Word is that they aim to announce the closure of the agreement at the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference that will be held from 10-13 of December in Buenos Aires and the clock is ticking to close all the chapters before that. As usual, the negotiations are taking place in secrecy, but the EU released a draft proposal of the IPR chapter in September last year, which has provided the general public some knowledge about what is been negotiated.

    • Trump’s $100K Salary Donation to Opioid Crisis Denounced As ‘Meaningless Gesture’

      At a White House press briefing on Thursday, officials praised President Donald Trump’s “extreme generosity” as they announced that he would be donating his third-quarter salary to help combat the opioid crisis—but critics raised questions about the gesture amid the scope of the epidemic as well as the president’s agenda which has shown little concern for generosity towards Americans who are most in need.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • What’s Wrong with Talking to North Korea?

      Anyone who says talk is cheap hasn’t tried getting President Trump to talk with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un. Not even the specter of a war that could kill millions of people on the Korean peninsula, Japan and now even the continental United States seems sufficient to push the two leaders into negotiations. Both sides insist on unacceptable preconditions before they will even consider holding formal talks to reach a peaceful settlement.

    • Reporting Recipe: Bombs in Your Backyard

      For the past year, ProPublica has been documenting the state of toxic pollution left behind by the military across the U.S. As part of this investigation, we acquired a dataset of all facilities that the Department of Defense considers contaminated. Today we used the data to publish an interactive news application called Bombs in Your Backyard. Here’s how you can use it to find hazardous sites near you — and what, if anything, is being done to remedy the pollution.

      The data, which has never been released before, comes from the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, which the DOD administers to measure and document cleanup efforts at current and former military locations.

      There are a lot of great local investigative stories waiting to be done with the data. This reporting recipe is meant to help you find and report ones near you.

    • The Trump wars era

      A recent, low-profile Pentagon document gives a hint of the US’s current projection of military power:

      “The U.S. has 8,892 forces in Iraq, 15,298 troops in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, for a total of 25,910 troops serving in the three war zones as of Sept. 30, according to DoD. The figures were released to the public Nov. 17 as part of DoD’s quarterly count of active duty, Reserve, Guard and civilian personnel assigned by country by the Defense Manpower Data Center” (see Tara Copp, “26,000 troops total..”, Military Times, 27 November 2017).

      The total figure alone is much higher than previous numbers. But by itself it is misleading in that the United States defense department normally excludes two further categories of troops: those rotating for short periods and, of far greater significance, many of the special forces. These are waging much of the combat in all three theatres – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. That means the true number is probably close to, or even over, 30,000. To this could be added troops involved in operations across the Sahel, Somalia or Yemen.

    • North Korea Tests Its Third ICBM: What’s Next?

      After 74 days of silence, North Korea test-fired its third and most successful intercontinental ballistic missile to date on Tuesday night, triggering another frenzied response from the US media and the usual bluster from Washington hawks pining for another pre-emptive war.

      Initially, the North’s explanation that its test marked the final completion of its plan to become a “rocket power” and a “full-fledged nuclear force,” combined with the subdued reaction from President Trump (“we will take care of it”), seemed to suggest that something may be afoot on the diplomatic front.

      “There is a considerable likelihood that North Korea will propose dialogue with the US while promising to do its duty in the international community as a nuclear power,” Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, told the liberal Hankyoreh in Seoul. He predicted a shift in Pyongyang “toward a peace offensive.”

    • Guns tend to empower white, financially unstable men—who oppose gun control

      In the wake of a mass shooting or fresh data on gun violence, pundits and the media often blame the US’ high rate of gun ownership and deaths on a deeply rooted “gun culture.” For many—particularly advertisers—this culture conjures ideas of morally strong, empowered, self-reliant, American patriots bearing arms. And it grazes notions of masculine heroes, protectors, and providers.

      But it’s difficult to define a single culture behind gun ownership and the opposition to gun control legislation that sometimes accompanies that. More importantly, blaming something as vague as “culture” isn’t exactly helpful for identifying ways to reduce the US’ high death toll.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Maine Government Agency Tries To Charge Public Records Requester $750 For Opening A PDF

      We’ve seen lots of ridiculous amounts tossed around by government agencies in response to public records requests. Most of the ridiculous amounts we’ve covered give the appearance that the agency making the demand feels requesters are also spending other people’s money. Like a Texas agency demanding $1 million for prison sexual assault records or the FBI wanting $270,000 to hand over files on defense contractor Booz Allen.

      Other demands are smaller, but no less of a deterrent to government transparency. In one infamous example, the Massachusetts State Police erected a $180 paywall around documents related to the agency’s marijuana enforcement efforts. Once the agency had the money in hand, it turned around and asked the state supervisor of public records to declare the requested records exempt from release. That was back in July. The MSP still has yet to release the records the requester paid for.

  • Finance
    • Bitcoin breaks the $10,000 barrier for first time

      The currency has experienced a great deal of growth in the last few months. Just a few days ago, it reached the $9,000 mark, despite being worth less than $1,000 at the start of 2017.

    • Bitcoin Recovers From Sudden Selloff as Large Swings Persist

      The digital currency climbed as high as $10,787.99 in Asian trading hours Thursday, after touching a nadir of $9,009.15, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The 21 percent slump on Wednesday, triggered in part by intermittent outages at cryptocurrency exchanges, came just hours after bitcoin had soared to a record.

    • Bitcoin bubble balloons to $11,000 – and even Katy Perry’s on board now

      Bitcoin has surged to $11,000 just 12 hours after passing the symbolic $10,000 mark, making one unit of the digital currency worth more than £8,200.

    • Bitcoin price soars above $11,000 as central bankers seek to calm fears
    • Sammy Wilson warns Brexit talks may jeopardise DUP-Tory deal

      DUP MP Sammy Wilson has warned that his party’s deal to support the Conservative government could be jeopardised by the Brexit negotiations.

      He said any attempt to “placate Dublin and the EU” could mean a withdrawal of DUP support at Westminster.

      He was responding to a Times newspaper report about a possible Brexit deal.

      It would involve devolving powers to Northern Ireland to enable customs convergence with the EU/Irish Republic on areas like agriculture and energy.

    • Uber’s crisis deepens with record quarterly loss

      Uber has logged another quarter of record-breaking losses, losing $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2017. For comparison, Uber lost $2.8 billion in all of 2016 and lost $1.1 billion in the second quarter of 2017.

      The worsening financial picture is not a surprise. Founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick resigned in June, leaving the company leaderless for much of the third quarter. Uber’s legal battle with Waymo has not been going well for Uber, and Uber is facing up to three federal investigations into the company’s practices.

      Uber’s money-losing business continues to grow, with gross bookings rising from $8.7 billion in the second quarter to $9.7 billion in the third quarter.

    • Don’t Say ‘Lowering Taxes’ When You Mean ‘Lowering Taxes for the Rich’

      The problem with this assertion is that the Republican plans actually raise taxes for close to half of middle-income families, as the New York Times has reported. Given the structure of this tax cut and prior Republican tax cuts, it would seem more accurate to say that cutting taxes for rich people is what makes a Republican a Republican.

    • The Best Way to Spur Growth? Help the Poor, Not the Rich

      To be sure, Mnuchin is gaffe-prone. He was last spotted on Nov. 15 happily gripping a big sheet of uncut dollar bills while his wife, actress Louise Linton, struck a Cruella de Vil pose beside him. As the journalist Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. And the truth is that Republicans have gone all in on the notion that if they pour tax cuts onto the very rich, the benefits will flow down to the mere rich, and from them to the middle class, and finally to the poor. Like a Champagne tower at a swanky wedding reception.

    • Millions of Households Face Tax Increase or No Tax Benefit Under Senate GOP Bill

      Millions of households would face tax increases or get little from the Senate tax bill – even before most of its individual income tax provisions would sunset in 2025, new Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates released yesterday show. Nevertheless, in expressing his support for the bill today, Senator John McCain claimed that the Senate bill “would directly benefit all Americans.” The JCT figures show that’s not the case.

    • Astonishing 197 NatWest and 62 RBS branches to close – the full list of branches shutting and your options if yours goes

      A total of 62 RBS branches and 197 NatWest outlets will be closed by the middle of next year costing 680 jobs.

      RBS told Mirror Money it was writing to customers of affected branches to highlight the alternative ways to bank in their area.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Anti-Populism, Smug Centrism and the Defense of Elitism

      Both the leadership of the Democratic Party and the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party seem obsessed with challenging Trumpism by calling for a return to a mythical political “center” and by elevating “elitism” as an antidote to “populism.” This while the political “center” under Trump means scapegoating our nation’s problems to Muslims, Mexicans and liberals while prosecuting leftists for confrontations against a rising tide of neo-fascism.

      I am an absolutist on free speech issues, and don’t support violence by anyone at any political demonstrations, but centrist elitism is encouraging a wave of political repression against so-called “extremists” by the federal government under Trump. So far the targets are anti-fascist anarchists and political leftists.

    • The man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account has revealed himself
    • Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account

      In fact, it appeared that Trump’s account was essentially protected from being deactivated over Terms of Service violations. In June, Twitter explained why: Some tweets that seemingly violate its terms of service are nevertheless “newsworthy” and therefore in the public interest to keep up.

      One takeaway from Twitter’s exemption for newsworthy tweets is that news and information trump judgment calls on the relative toxicity of the content, which is probably apt in our age of toxicity dressed up as “news.”

    • Former Twitter Worker Who Shut Down Trump’s Account: ‘It Was Just Random’

      “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything which I wasn’t authorized to do,” he said.

    • AT&T says it should be allowed to buy Time Warner because Comcast bought NBC

      AT&T is fighting back against the Trump administration’s attempt to block its proposed purchase of Time Warner Inc. One week after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the deal, AT&T filed its first answer to the lawsuit yesterday.

    • All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and the Spirit of I.F. Stone

      FAIR has kept fundraising at bay with only occasional pleas for help this year. Now the bank account is low and showing serious signs of stress. So FAIR is now officially launching its year-end fundraising campaign with a much-needed $50,000 goal.

      It’s been a tough year of beating back supposed “news” that distracts from the concrete concerns in our lives. With healthcare and Social Security under attack, EPA rules purged, voting rights eliminated, these real news stories, and more, need telling. FAIR breaks it down in our newsletter Extra!, our online articles and our weekly radio show CounterSpin.

    • Dasvidaniya, Donna Brazile, the Dismal Dollar Democrat

      You can’t tell a book by its advance press. Take Donna Brazile’s new 2016 campaign memoir Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House (released three weeks ago).

      To say that Brazile brings an insiders’ view to the 2016 election is an understatement. She was named interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair to replace the noxious Clintonite hack Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the Democratic Party held its national convention two summers ago. Brazile stayed in that position through the Electoral College triumph of Boss Tweet, which left her “depressed” but determined to” heal [the nation’s] partisan divide” and “fight for my country.”

    • The Collapse of Media and What You Can Do About It

      When a system enters into the final stage of its deterioration – whether that is an institutional system, a state, an empire, or the human body – all the important information flows that support coherent communication breakdown. In this final stage, if this situation is not corrected the system will collapse and die.

      It has become obvious to nearly everyone that we have reached this stage on the planet and in our democratic institutions. We see how the absolute dysfunction of the global information architecture — represented in the intersection of mainstream media outlets, social technology platforms and giant digital aggregators — is generating widespread apathy, despair, insanity and madness at a scale that is terrifying.

      And we are right to be terrified, because this situation is paralyzing us from taking the action required to solve global and local challenges. While liberals fight conservatives and conservatives fight liberals we lose precious time.

      While progressives fight government, the corporations and the super-rich we drown in despair. While philanthropists, fueled by their own certainty and wealth, fight for justice or equality or for some poor hamlet in Africa we become apathetic and distracted from the real source of the problem. And while the president fights everyone and everyone fights the president, the collective goes mad.

    • Google Accused of Pushing Think Tank to Squash Critic of Corporate Power

      Zephyr Teachout, an Open Markets fellow and critic of money in politics, wrote in response to reports of New America’s move: “Google has too much power.”

      The organization’s decision to push out Lynn and the entire Open Markets team was a result of Google’s realization “that anti-monopoly critics are gaining popular support and must be squashed,” Teachout concluded. “Time for a national anti-monopoly movement! Time to start enforcing antitrust again!”

      Others similarly argued that the New America story is part of a much broader problem of excessive corporate concentration and influence.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Kansas Doesn’t Even Try to Defend Its Israel Anti-Boycott Law

      The state’s response to the ACLU’s First Amendment challenge doesn’t mention the First Amendment once.

      Kansas officials are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow to defend a state law designed to suppress boycotts of Israel. There’s just one problem: The state quite literally has no defense for the law’s First Amendment violations.

      The ACLU filed a lawsuit in October against a law requiring anyone contracting with the state to sign a statement affirming that they don’t boycott Israel or its settlements. We represent Esther Koontz, a math teacher who was hired by the state to train other teachers. Together with members of her Mennonite church, Esther boycotts Israel to protest its treatment of Palestinians. After she explained that she could not in good conscience sign the statement, the state refused to let her participate in the training program.

      The law violates the First Amendment, which protects the right to participate in political boycotts. That right was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1982, when it ruled that an NAACP boycott of white-owned businesses in Mississippi during the civil rights movement was a protected form of free expression and free association. But despite long-held consensus around the right to boycott, we were still pretty surprised when Kansas didn’t even try to argue the law is constitutional.

    • Portugal fire report in ‘censorship’ row

      The author of an official report into Portugal’s worst-ever forest fire has accused the authorities of “censorship” for ruling that an important chapter cannot be made public.

      Xavier Viegas, of Coimbra University’s Centre for the Study of Forest Fires, says “nothing can justify the decision to censor” the report into the June fires, according to Publico newspaper.

    • When Tweets Are Governmental Business, Officials Don’t Get to Pick and Choose Who Gets To Receive, Comment On, And Reply to Them. That Goes For the President, Too

      We’ve taken a stand for the First Amendment rights of individuals to receive and comment on social media posts from governmental officials and agencies. We’ve received a lot of good questions about why we believe that public servants—mayors, sheriffs, senators, even President Donald Trump—can’t block people whose views they dislike on Twitter without violating those persons’ free speech rights. Some question why citizens have a right to receive an official’s private Twitter account—@realdonaldtrump, for example. Others point out that Twitter isn’t a government forum with an obligation to allow users access to Trump’s messages, and others say users can still use workarounds to see the tweets of those who have blocked them.

      We’re taking a deep dive into the First Amendment here to explain our thinking and our reading of the law that supports our position. As you read, bear this in mind: the First Amendment doesn’t just protect your right to speak your mind. It also protects your right to receive, read, hear, see, and obtain information and ideas.

      We filed a “friend of the court” brief in a lawsuit brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute and several Twitter users who have been blocked by President Trump from the @realdonaldtrump account. The president has admitted in the lawsuit that he blocked them because he objected to the viewpoints they expressed in replying to his tweets or in their own tweets. The lawsuit names President Trump, acting White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Daniel Scavino, White House deputy director of social media, as defendants. The case is Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump.

      The government was not allowed to pick and choose who gets to receive official statements in the predigital age, and that’s still true in the digital age when public servants are increasingly relying on social media to communicate with the public

      Although that case is specifically about President Trump’s Twitter feed, we see this as a much broader issue. We frequently receive reports from community activists and other social media users who were blocked from commenting on an agency’s Facebook page, or prevented from contributing to a community discussion prompted by an officials’ tweet, or have faced similar barriers to participation in public debate. We receive reports about how governmental officials manipulate social media comments to exclude opposing views to create the impression that hotly contested policies are not contested at all. And we realize, in seeing how agencies use social media to quickly disseminate emergency information during the recent spate of natural disasters, that the ability to receive such messages can be a matter of life and death.

    • House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like The Senate Bill, Except Worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

    • SINGAPORE: TEEN BLOGGER AMOS YEE GRANTED ASYLUM IN THE U.S.

      Amos Yee, a teen blogger who fled Singapore, has been granted asylum in the United States. Yee was released from U.S. detention after 9 months of being detained. Yee first received asylum in March, but was quickly rejected by the Department of Homeland Security. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with Judge Samuel Cole’s findings; claiming that, “The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore’s prosecution of Yee was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore Government.”

    • Self-censorship: the modern scourge

      There should be a national outrage at the escalating demands of the wilder fringe of the trans movement, who I like to believe are only a vocal minority, but there isn’t, and we all know why. People are scared of losing face, fearful of appearing bad and uncaring among their liberal friends. To criticise the trans movement is the equivalent of announcing at a posh party that you voted Brexit: it puts you on the side of stupid, evil reactionaries.

      [...]

      Cowardice, silence and self-censorship are all-too-common features of ground-level politics today. People are also afraid to speak out against Islamism for fear of being denounced as racist. Any criticism of Islam is frequently labelled a ‘hate crime’, which is why many fear to criticise the religion, lest they get an unexpected visit from the police. This fear of being called racist is one reason why rape gangs in the north of England could go unpunished for years.

    • Censor Board Stops Screening of S Durga, Objects to ‘Boxes’ in New Title
    • Sexy Durga’s screening: When censorship gets sexy
    • The futility of censorship; S Durga grew bigger in the public imagination after I&B ministry blocked it
    • India’s filmmakers complain about censorship
    • Nude art and censorship laid bare
    • Censorship Comes To Google

      Why did Google do this? Perhaps they were concerned about Russia meddling in American elections or they thought their customers wished to see less of Russia Today. It matters not. Generally, Google has broad power to police its platform. We might not like the decision, but it is not ours to make.

    • Death Threats, Intimidation, Censorship: Inside the Far Right’s Assault on Brazil’s Art Scene

      Last week, curator Gaudêncio Fidélis appeared before the senate in Brazil’s capital to face allegations of “mistreatment of children and teenagers.” His offense: Organizing “Queermuseum: Cartographies of Difference in Brazilian Art,” an exhibition of more than 200 works of Modern and contemporary art that explored queerness and gender at the Santander Cultural Center in Porto Alegre. The venue closed the exhibition a month early, on September 10, following violent protests and pressure from conservative political groups.

      The furor surrounding the show is just one example of the mounting challenges to artistic freedom in Brazil, which hangs in the balance as right-wing groups work to shut down exhibitions and intimidate artists whose work they consider immoral. Dealers, curators, and artists say they have received death threats. And many are unsure of what to do in the face of a particularly 21st century kind of violence: One that begins online, but often has real-world consequences.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • ORG Responds to Government’s proposed changes to the Investigatory Powers Act

      Investigatory Powers Act 2016 Consultation on the Government’s proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union

      [...]

      “The government has evaded the main point of the Watson judgment: they cannot keep data on a blanket basis.

      “Without narrowing what they keep to specific places, incidents or investigations, these changes will not meet the standards set by the courts.

    • Home Office concedes independent authorisation

      This is major victory for ORG, although one with dangers. The government has conceded that independent authorisation is necessary for communications data requests, but refused to budge on retained data and is pushing ahead with the “Request Filter”.

    • American startups need surveillance reform

      There’s an ongoing debate on the Hill over government surveillance that will impact companies with users abroad, especially startups.

      With a good idea and a connection to the open internet, a small startup anywhere in the U.S. can reach users all over the world, expanding their business and contributing to economic and job growth back home.

    • House Intelligence Committee’s NSA Surveillance Bill Includes New Threats and Old

      Thrown last-minute into a torrent of competing legislation, a new bill meant to expand the NSA’s broad surveillance powers is the most recent threat to American privacy. It increases who is subject to surveillance, allows warrantless search of American communications, expands how collected data can be used, and treats constitutional protections as voluntary.

      The bill must be stopped immediately. There is little time: despite the bill’s evening release yesterday, November 29, a committee is scheduled to markup the bill tomorrow, December 1.

      The bill is called the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, and it was introduced by Rep. Nunes (R-CA), the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It shares the same name as another bill introduced in the Senate in October.

      Both bills are attempts to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a powerful surveillance authority that allows the NSA to target and collect communications of non-U.S. persons living outside the United States. Section 702 predictably causes the incidental collection of American communications that are swept up during foreign intelligence surveillance, too.

      These are some of the most glaring problems with this House bill.

    • New Surveillance Bill Would Dramatically Expand NSA Powers

      The House Intelligence Committee is rushing a surveillance bill through Congress that violates American privacy rights.

      The USA Patriot Act, passed hurriedly after 9/11, taught us that rushing a surveillance bill through Congress is a bad idea, producing complicated statutes ripe for abuse. Yet the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee is taking a page out of President George W. Bush’s playbook and trying to do just that.

      Tomorrow, the committee will debate a bill that dramatically expands NSA surveillance authorities, including one that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The bill was publicly released just last night, giving members of the committee and other legislators less than 48 hours to try to understand the complex proposal.

      Perhaps hoping no one has time to closely read the “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017,” sponsors have pitched the measure as one that makes key changes to intelligence authorities to “protect Americans’ privacy rights.” The truth, however, is that it does the exact opposite.

      This is why the ACLU, joined by over 30 organizations from across the political spectrum, is urging members of Congress to oppose the bill. Here are some of the reasons we’re fighting this legislation.

    • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Section 702: Mend It, Don’t End It
    • NSA Secretly Helped Convict Defendants in US Courts, Classified Documents Reveal

      Fazliddin Kurbanov is a barrel-chested man from Uzbekistan who came to the United States in 2009, when he was in his late 20s. A Christian who had converted from Islam, Kurbanov arrived as a refugee and spoke little English. Resettled in Boise, Idaho, he rented an apartment, worked odd jobs, and was studying to be a truck driver.

      But about three years after entering the U.S., around the time he converted back to Islam, Kurbanov was placed under FBI surveillance. According to emails and internet chat logs obtained by the government, Kurbanov was disgusted by having seen Americans burn the Quran and by reports that an American soldier had tried to rape a Muslim girl. “My entire life, everything, changed,” Kurbanov wrote in a July 31, 2012 email.

    • NSA accidentally leaks more secrets after ‘Red Disk’ was left on unsecured AWS server

      More US security secrets have been leaked online after the virtual image of a disk drive containing sensitive information was found, unsecured, on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server.

      Chris Vickery, director of cybersecurity research firm UpGuard, claims that he found the unlisted image on a publicly accessible server with no password needed to access it.

      “Critical data belonging to the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), a joint US Army and National Security Agency (NSA) Defence Department command tasked with gathering intelligence for US military and political leaders, leaked onto the public internet, exposing internal data and virtual systems used for classified communications to anyone with an internet connection,” said Dan O’Sullivan Dan O’Sullivan, cyber resilience analyst at UpGuard.

    • EFF Demands Information About Secretive Government Tattoo Recognition Technology

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Homeland Security today, demanding records about the agencies’ work on the federal Tattoo Recognition Technology program.

      This secretive program involves a coalition of government, academia, and private industry working to develop a series of algorithms that would rapidly detect tattoos, identify people via their tattoos, and match people with others who have similar body art—as well as flagging tattoos believed to be connected to religious and ethnic symbols. This type of surveillance raises profound religious, speech, and privacy concerns. Moreover, the limited information that EFF has been able to obtain about the program has already revealed a range of potentially unethical behavior, including conducting research on prisoners without approval, adequate oversight, or safeguards.

      EFF filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for more information about the Tattoo Recognition Technology program, which is a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) project sponsored by the FBI, beginning in January of 2016. Although the agencies released some records, they withheld others, and heavily redacted some of the documents they released. As a result, EFF is going to court today against DHS, DOJ, and NIST’s parent agency, the Commerce Department, to make sure this important information is released to the public.

    • Tenta Browser Now Includes HTTPS Everywhere

      Securely browsing the Internet—even when you know what you’re doing—is tough. That’s partly why, nearly seven years ago, EFF worked together with The Tor Project to develop a privacy tool called HTTPS Everywhere, which automatically provides users with secure, encrypted connections to websites when available.

      While HTTPS Everywhere can be installed on a number of desktop browsers, there are fewer options for mobile devices. One mobile browser app has fixed that.

      Starting today, HTTPS Everywhere is now included by default, with no extra installation, in the mobile browser Tenta Browser, available on the Google Play Store. The integration of HTTPS Everywhere helps declutter the landscape of current mobile browser apps, many of which advertise themselves as security-focused, with promises of incognito mode, private browsing, secure tunnels, auto proxy abilities, VPN services, and more.

      EFF appreciates this move and the effort taken by Tenta’s developers. It is a welcome inclusion that works through some of the trickier problems with online secure connections.

    • Australian man uses snack bags as Faraday cage to block tracking by employer

      A 60-year-old electrician in Perth, Western Australia had his termination upheld by a labor grievance commission when it was determined he had been abusing his position and technical knowledge to squeeze in some recreation during working hours. Tom Colella used mylar snack bags to block GPS tracking via his employer-assigned personal digital assistant to go out to play a round of golf—more than 140 times—while he reported he was offsite performing repairs.

    • Justices hear case that could reshape location privacy in the cellular age

      Supreme Court justices on Wednesday wrestled with how to apply Fourth Amendment privacy protections to cell phone location records.

      Cell phones produce a “minute-by-minute account of a person’s locations and movements and associations over a long period regardless of what the person is doing at any given moment,” the ACLU’s Nathan Freed Wessler pointed out in an argument before the Supreme Court. The ACLU is urging the Supreme Court to rule that the government can’t access these records without a warrant.

      But the government pointed to a 1979 Supreme Court ruling called Smith v. Maryland. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the government doesn’t need to get a warrant to obtain a customer’s dialing history because they are merely the business records of the phone company. The government argues that the same principle, known as the third-party doctrine, applies here: data about which cell phone towers a customer’s phone has talked to are merely the cell phone company’s business records and should be available to the government without a warrant.

    • Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Cell Site Location Info Case

      The Supreme Court’s review of the Carpenter case — dealing with the warrantless collection of cell site location info — kicked off yesterday. Oral arguments featured Nate Wessler of the ACLU facing off against the DOJ’s Michael Dreeben in a case that could drastically alter the Third Party Doctrine.
      From the early going, it sounds a bit like the court is leaning towards a drastic alteration. There’s a lot that can be read from the arguments presented by the justices — especially those by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch. After some of the expected arguments — the Third Party Doctrine, the post-facto privacy invasion that is 100+ days of location tracking, etc. — Gorsuch wades into pretty novel theory based on the property… um… properties of location data gathered by service providers.
      Referencing the privacy protections statutorily mandated by 47 USC § 222 (and the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on GPS tracking devices), Gorsuch goes after the DOJ’s lawyer, asking him why records considered by law to be the property of carrier customers aren’t afforded the same protection as the Fourth Amendment “papers and effects” they keep in their houses.

    • Three quarters of Android apps track users with third party tools – study

      Other less widely-used trackers can go much further. One cited by Yale is FidZup, a French tracking provider with technology that can “detect the presence of mobile phones and therefore their owners” using ultrasonic tones. FidZup says it no-longer uses that technology, however, since tracking users through simple wifi networks works just as well.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Trump Set to Nominate Torture-Supporting Senator Tom Cotton as CIA Director, Report Claims

      The CIA could soon be led by a man who’s expressed support for torture, according to a bombshell report from The New York Times.

      Trump is planning to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and nominate Senator Tom Cotton to head the intelligence agency in the next few weeks, the report claims. Cotton has reportedly indicated he’d accept the position.

    • Federal Judge Slams Trump Administration’s ‘Circular Reasoning’ For Imprisoning U.S. Citizen Without Access To Lawyer

      A visibly frustrated federal judge ordered the Trump administration to tell her — by 5 p.m. Thursday — whether an American citizen the government has detained incommunicado for months has been advised of his constitutional rights or has asked for legal representation.

      The U.S. government accuses the man of fighting for the Islamic State, but so far has refused to release his name or charge him with any crime. Instead, the military has imprisoned him in Iraq, without access to a lawyer, since mid-September. The man has asked for a lawyer at least twice, the Washington Post reported last month.

      The American Civil Liberties Union filed a habeas corpus petition — a formal way to challenge an individual’s imprisonment — on the man’s behalf on Oct. 5, after he had already been in prison for several weeks. If the group prevails, it could force the government to allow its lawyers to represent the detainee and to meet with him privately.

    • Cherokee Writer: Trump Pocahontas Slur Reflects Centuries of Colonial Violence Against Native Women

      As Native American Heritage Month winds down, President Donald Trump is opening the door to new drilling and mining on land considered sacred by tribal nations. On Monday, Trump plans to travel to Utah to announce plans to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to make way for more industrial activity on the land. The Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe all say they will sue to stop the plan. This comes after Trump attempted to insult Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by referring to her as “Pocahontas” during a White House ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers, Native Americans who served in the Marines during WWII and used the Navajo language in order to transmit encoded information. Warren says her family is part Cherokee. We speak with Mary Kathryn Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation and a partner at Pipestem Law, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the restoration of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction.

    • Trump’s Lawyers Say the Muslim Ban Has No Bias, But His Tweets Show Otherwise

      Despite his lawyers’ attempts to recast the Muslim ban, Trump cannot stop revealing the bigotry behind it.

      Yesterday morning, President Trump shared three videos on Twitter that purport to show Muslims committing graphic acts of violence. He retweeted all three from the account of Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the ultranationalist party Britain First, who was convicted of religious aggravated harassment in November 2016 after abusing a woman wearing a hijab. The president’s move prompted public outcry and a rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May, whose spokesman underlined that Britain First is a source of “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”

      We should all be outraged that the president of the United States is promoting and endorsing videos that are plainly designed to fan the flames of anti-Muslim hatred. The decision to do that is reckless, dangerous, and contrary to fundamental American values that protect all of us from religious discrimination. It is not, however, surprising.

      Trump’s prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn — because he is the one revealing it. He showed his bias with Wednesday’s tweets, with pronouncements like “Islam hates us,” and with every version of the Muslim ban, the latest of which the ACLU and partners will challenge in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 8.

    • Behind the Push for Catalonian Independence

      Before embarking for a visit to Barcelona, the hotbed of Catalonian independence, I was disappointed to find little historical analysis about the enigma of Catalan independence in the major U.S. news media. The U.S. news agencies that I follow presented little more than a daily chronicle of street demonstrations and the conflict between the supporters of Catalonian independence and the political leadership in the Spanish capital of Madrid. If there was much else, I missed it.

    • How Three Generations Experienced Segregated American Education

      I am the child and grandchild of educators on both sides of my family. My mother was born in Texarkana, Texas. Her great-aunt, a woman I grew up calling Grandma Isabelle, was raising my mother when she and her husband, Bill, decided to join the flow out of the South during the great migration. They settled in San Francisco in the late 1950s, my teenage mother along with them.

      My Grandma Isabelle did what she termed “maid’s work,” sometimes for white families, sometimes in hospitals, up until her death in the 1980s. Her husband, my “Uncle Bill,” worked a variety of odd jobs. However, more than what he did to earn a living, what I most recall about him was how he was able to impose his will on the hard, rocky ground in the back of their small, two- bedroom, one-bath home in the Hunters Point area of San Francisco. In defiance of the sky that was often gray and the chill of the fog-kissed wind, he made a garden grow tomatoes and okra and collard greens and cabbage.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Scrapping FCC net neutrality rules would be a mistake

      Repealing net neutrality would result in the de facto concentration of internet control of revenue from accessible services into the hands of certain gatekeepers, undermining the open architecture that allows the free exchange of ideas.

    • Absent Facts To Support Repealing Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai Wildly Attacking Hollywood Tweeters

      As the old lawyer saying goes: “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.” It appears that FCC chair Ajit Pai has taken that to heart. Neither the law, nor the facts are on his side with regards to his attempt to gut net neutrality, so he’s done the modern equivalent of pounding the table: blame Hollywood and the internet companies for the fact that almost everyone disagrees with his plan to kill net neutrality.
      The law is against him, because in order to reverse the order from the previous FCC, Pai needs to show that this change is not “arbitrary and capricious.” Many people falsely assume that the FCC can just make whatever rule it wants, and thus with every change of the FCC the rules can flip flop. But that’s not how it works. While the courts give strong deference to administrative agencies in their decision-making capabilities, one area where the courts will push back is if a regulatory change is found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” The courts have already upheld the 2015 Open Internet Order by Tom Wheeler as legitimate, where that FCC showed that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service was perfectly reasonable based on the changes to the market conditions since broadband was declared a Title I information service a decade or so earlier. So, for Pai’s plan to actually pass judicial scrutiny, he has to prove that the market has changed so much in the past two years, that an obvious correction is necessary. So far, the only thing he’s been able to rely on are clearly bogus studies that are easily debunked by the companies themselves in their statements to Wall Street about the impact of the 2015 rules. Thus, both the rules and the law are against him.
      Of course, rather than face up to the fact that the vast majority of Americans (Democrats, Republicans, everyone) support keeping net neutrality rules in place, Pai has spent the last week or so only retweeting his supporters and ignoring detractors entirely. And, now, apparently, his “pounding the table” is to lash out at famous Hollywood stars… and internet companies (note: not internet access companies), as if they’re the problem.

    • Everything That’s Wrong With Social Media And Big Internet Companies: Part 1

      Some of today’s anxiety about social-media platforms is driven by the concern that Russian operatives somehow used Facebook and Twitter to affect our electoral process. Some of it’s due a general perception that big American social-media companies, amorally or immorally driven by the profit motive, are eroding our privacy and selling our data to other companies or turning it over to the government—or both. Some of it’s due to the perception that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are bad for us—that maybe even Google’s or Microsoft’s search engines are bad for us—and that they make us worse people or debase public discourse. Taken together, it’s more than enough fodder for politicians or would-be pundits to stir up generalized anxiety about big tech.

      But regardless of where this moral panic came from, the current wave of anxiety about internet intermediaries and social-media platforms has its own momentum now. So we can expect many more calls for regulation of these internet tools and platforms in the coming months and years. Which is why it’s a good idea to itemize the criticisms we’ve already seen, or are likely to see, in current and future public-policy debates about regulating the internet. We need to chart the kinds of arguments for new internet regulation that are going to confront us, so I’ve been compiling a list of them. It’s a work in progress, but here are three major claims that are driving recent expressions of concern about social media and internet companies generally.

    • Charter is using net neutrality repeal to fight lawsuit over slow speeds

      The impending repeal of net neutrality rules is being used by Charter Communications to fight a lawsuit that alleges the company made false promises of fast Internet service.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in February filed the lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary. Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai this month submitted a proposal to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality rules and to preempt state governments from regulating net neutrality on their own.

    • Net neutrality at a crossroads: why India’s policy process has important lessons for the US

      Digital equality demands that access to the internet is seen as indivisible from a democratic internet. Net neutrality is not just about an open architecture, but about genuine egalitarianism – meaning internet access.

    • The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality Is Based Entirely On Debunked Lobbyist Garbage Data

      For several years now one of the broadband industry’s biggest criticisms of net neutrality is that it “utterly devastated” investment into broadband networks. But for just as long, we’ve noted how every time a journalist or analyst actually dissects that claim, they find it’s completely unsupportable. What objective analysts do tend to find is that the telecom sector hires an army of economists, consultants, fauxcademics and lobbyists more than happy to manipulate, distort and twist the data until it supports whatever conclusion they’re paid to parrot.

      That net neutrality didn’t harm sector investment isn’t really debatable. Just ask industry executives from Frontier, Comcast, Cablevision, Sprint, AT&T, Sonic and even neutrality public enemy number one, Verizon all of who are on public record telling investors the “net neutrality killed sector investment” claim simply isn’t true. That this concept is a canard is also supported by public SEC filings and earnings reports, as well as the billions being spent on spectrum as these companies rush toward the fifth generation (5G) wireless networks of tomorrow.

    • After Attacking Random Hollywood Supporters Of Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai Attacks Internet Companies

      This is, of course, playing to his political base, who are currently angry at Twitter. But… it’s also… strange. Both of the examples he brings up are misleading or were overblown. We were among those who mocked Twitter for blocking Blackburn’s ad, but as a bunch of people, who chided us in the comments, correctly noted, no one stopped Blackburn from posting the tweet — just from promoting it as an advertisement on Twitter’s ad platform. Which is really different than blocking content — and, not only that, but Twitter backed down within hours of this becoming public, admitting it was a mistake. The story about Twitter “warning users” that “a link to a statement by one company on the topic of Internet regulation ‘may be unsafe’” is also exaggerated. Twitter’s sketchy anti-spam/anti-malware detector for links, very briefly, accidentally warned that AT&T’s blog may be unsafe. Once again, this lasted for a very short time, and was clearly a mistake by the filter.

    • As Net Neutrality Repeal Nears, Comcast’s Promise To Avoid ‘Paid Prioritization’ Disappears

      Despite having spent millions on repealing broadband privacy and soon net neutrality, Comcast’s lobbyists and PR folks have spent the last few weeks claiming that nobody has anything to worry about because Comcast would never do anything to harm consumers or competitors. This glorified pinky swear is likely going to be cold comfort for the millions of consumers, small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs trying to build something (or god forbid directly compete with Comcast NBC Universal) over the next decade.

      But while Comcast is busy trying to convince everyone that gutting regulatory oversight over an uncompetitive broadband market will only result in wonderful things, they’re simultaneously back peddling on past claims to not violate net neutrality.

    • Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination

      Comcast fought the last net neutrality regulation in 2015 by making a bunch of promises about how fair it would be, whether or not the FCC regulated its behavior; this week, Comcast has put on charm offensive by repeating all but one of those promises, namely, its promise not to create internet slow lanes and then extort money from web publishers by threatening to put them there unless they paid for “premium access” to the Comcast subscribers who were trying to retrieve data from them.

      That promise was live on Comcast’s website until April 26, 2017, but on that day, it disappeared.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Blasts Cher and Mark Ruffalo For Supporting Net Neutrality
    • The Credible Hulk: Ajit Pai thinks you only care about Net Neutrality because Mark Ruffalo told you to
    • Study: FCC net neutrality comments rife with fake users, duplicate messages

      According to Pew, the seven most common messages found in the record comprise 38 percent of all comments. Six of those were anti-net neutrality messages, submitted a combined 5.5 million times.

    • Ajit Pai’s Shell Game

      Pai is hoping to use outrage over net neutrality to drive everyone into the mosh pit of special interests that is lobbying on Capitol Hill. There will be strident calls from every side for reworking the existing Telecommunications Act to ensure that net neutrality continues. Just watch: The incumbents will piously say, “We like net neutrality too! We just need a different statute.” That’s a trap. We have a perfectly good statute already, and the Obama-era FCC’s interpretation of that statute so as to ensure an open internet—including its labeling of these giant companies as common carriers, which was necessary in order for open internet rules to be enforceable—has already been found reasonable. On the Hill, the public will be out-lobbied at every turn by the essentially unlimited resources of Comcast, Charter, CenturyLink, Verizon, and AT&T.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • New European Copyright Enforcement Plans Loom Large Even as Users Revolt Against Filter Proposal

        Since we last wrote about these copyright discussions, the LIBE (Civil Liberties) committee of the European Parliament, which was the last remaining committee to deliver its recommendations on the proposals to the lead JURI (Legal Affairs) committee, has taken its long-delayed vote on the draconian proposal to require Internet platforms to install copyright upload filters. Its ultimate recommendation was that the mandate be removed from Article 13 of the Digital Single Market Directive, in favor of softer obligations to take “appropriate and proportionate methods” to limit sharing of infringing content.

        This reflects a growing consensus that there is no way to rely on automatic filtering to sift out copyright-infringing content from legitimate speech. For example, this month the Center for Democracy & Technology has published a paper titled Mixed Messages? The Limits of Automated Social Media Content Analysis which bolsters existing research about the difficulty of automated filtering and the inevitability that it will result in the censorship of some protected speech.

        Yet still, this misguided approach enjoys strong support from copyright industry lobbyists. Switzerland has recently bent to this pressure, with a proposal to mandate automatic filtering to prevent infringing content from being re-uploaded. So the European Parliament’s vote on Article 13 is important to put a nail in the coffin of this bad idea, before more countries consider adopting it into law.

      • No Shit: Groundbreaking Study Shows That Giving People 12% Of The Video Content They Want Doesn’t Magically Stop Piracy

        When it comes to offering good legal alternatives to piracy in the entertainment industry, there are two types of arguments people make. One is that these alternatives, if properly done, will reduce the rate of piracy within a population set. The other is that these streaming options are great revenue sources regardless of the impact on piracy within the population and that increased revenues are all that really matter. What virtually nobody has argued is that if a streaming service barely gives people anything they want, even if that service is free, that piracy will cease to be.

      • Sky’s Pirate Site-Blocking Move is Something For North Korea, ISPs Say

        Sky TV is pioneering ‘pirate’ site-blocking in New Zealand after applying for an injunction against several local ISPs. But the move hasn’t been well received, with one group of ISPs reacting with anger to the move. Vocus Group says Sky is acting like a dinosaur, with an Internet censorship effort more suited to North Korea.

      • Netflix Is Not Going to Kill Piracy, Research Suggests

        Netflix and other on-demand streaming services barely help to curtail piracy, new research shows. While legal streaming services are commonly used nowadays, the limited availability of recent content and the associated price tag are serious hurdles for many pirates.

      • CJEU rules TV programme copies in cloud must be authorised by copyright holder

        In its VCAST v RTI judgement, the CJEU has ruled that copies of television programmes made available by being saved in the cloud must be authorised by the holder of the copyright or related rights because the service constitutes a retransmission

      • EU Court: Cloud-Based TV Recorder Requires Rightsholder Permission

        VCAST advertises itself as a VCR for the cloud, allowing users to record terrestrial TV into online storage to watch at a later point. But is it legal? According to a new ruling from the European Court of Justice, making TV shows available to consumers in this fashion must be authorized by rights holders.

      • Retransmissions Of TV Shows From Cloud Services Need Copyright Owner’s Consent, EU High Court Rules

        VCAST, a UK company that makes available to its customers internet retransmissions of Italian television programmes stored in the cloud, must obtain right holders’ consent first, the Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU) ruled on 29 November.

Irish Media Coverage of the EPO

Friday 1st of December 2017 09:14:52 AM

Summary: The Irish current affairs monthly “Village” published a short piece about the EPO in the print edition of its November issue. The text of the article reads as follows.

Impatience at the Patent Office

Accusations of autocratic power, breach of the rule of law and suppression of the staff union are circulating in the normally serene Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO) which employs 7000 people and decides whether a company is to be granted a monopoly on its inventions in as many as 38 European countries. The organisation is plagued by controversy including complaints from European judges and from its staff who have declared their lack of confidence in its President, Frenchman Benoit Battistelli, who – according to his critics – is behaving like an autocrat by employing former French colleagues in key positions and by introducing new strike regulations which weaken the EPO’s staff union, SUEPO. The EPO has a budget of around EUR 2 billion and is the second largest European organisation after the European Union (EU). The EPO is not part of the EU. No EPO employees want to be quoted by name because they are afraid of being punished, they told Villager. lt is also not possible to obtain comments from SUEPO, but the Staff Union has issued a number of communiques in which it states that the conflict is not about employment conditions but about the lack of fundamental rights for employees at the EPO.

EPO Caricature: Son of Campinos

Friday 1st of December 2017 09:12:22 AM

Context: Immunity of the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union Causes Outrage in Spanish Media

Summary: The latest in the cartoon series about the EPO turns to Mr. Campinos, who is due to become President in exactly 7 months

Ignore Today’s Fake News From IP Kat/Bristows, the UK is Not Ratifying the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Friday 1st of December 2017 12:58:36 AM

Disregard misinformation and self-serving (profit) sensationalism

Summary: Some people have begun taking note of a blog post from Bristows, but it’s distorting the facts in order to help Bristows sell services for something which will never exist

THE EPO must be a big fan of false information (misinformation). It does, after all, spread false information all the time. It does it literally every single day (except most weekends, due to inactivity). It does this both internally (inwards, to staff) and externally (outwards, to users, journalists and so on).

“The EPO must be a big fan of false information (misinformation).”Earlier today we saw a tweet which said: “UPC on the way to be ratified in the UK, Minister Johnson avoids answering the ECJ question in relation to Brexit…”

This was rather surprising, so tracing it back to the source we found that it’s just fake news, fake headline and misinformation from Bristows, as usual (fabricators and liars). They lie about the UPC in order to make it sound imminent and inevitable. They try to tell that to politicians as well, in order for them to vote/act out of ignorance.

Here is what Bristows tweeted and what Alan Johnson wrote, claiming a “possibly at the last meeting of 2017 scheduled for mid-December, but more probably at the first meeting of 2018 in January. After that the UK will be in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement.”

What utter nonsense. What. Utter. Nonsense.

This deviates so widely from any realistic timetable.

Expectedly, Bristows staff at IP Kat (surrogate to Bristows’ much-neglected ‘blog’) decided to start amplifying other UPC boosters such as Alex Robinson. Alan Johnson’s colleague copy-pasted something from Robinson, adding a misleading headline to it all.

“They lie about the UPC in order to make it sound imminent and inevitable. They try to tell that to politicians as well, in order for them to vote/act out of ignorance.”“I wrote a thing about the #upc’s passage through the Commons,” he said, “and the @Ipkat kindly published it” (if it’s pro-UPC, then of course it will!).

He had also said: “More on the #upc – the UPC (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017 has been considered by the HoC Delegated Legislation Committee today; the corresponding discussion in the Lords is now listed for 3:45 pm on 6 December.”

That’s next week

But watch the lobbying disguised as news/analysis — the very reasons some people resigned from that site. The headline (title) is “UK House of Commons committee progresses final stages of UPC ratification” and it then says that “in a room somewhere in Westminster, Kat friend Alex Robinson (Dehns) was observing the latest goings-ons on the Unified Patent Court with respect to the UK’s ratification process.” Barely even matches the title. Where are those “final stages of UPC ratification” and why the positivity/certainty? Nothing in Robinson’s words justifies it. As usual, as is common at IP Kat, what we have in posts is UPC propaganda followed by negative comments (those which pass moderation anyway), often berating the author. Just bypass Team UPC and see comments (as usual, the comments there are a lot more informative than the lobbying/marketing they’re attached to or clustered around).

“Put another way, Jo Johnson knows that they are not in a position to do anything, and not just due to Brexit talks.”Robinson wrote and wondered aloud about what “Mr Johnson meant by wording such as “we want to put ourselves in a position” to enable the UPC to come into force…”

Put another way, Jo Johnson knows that they are not in a position to do anything, and not just due to Brexit talks.

The first comment said: “The GuestKat’s meticulous verbal analysis is entirely justified in these circumstances – I am quite sure that Jo Johnson’s stopping short of saying that the UK will actually ratify the Agreement was quite deliberate (and/or an implicit acknowledgment that if we do we may nevertheless have to leave again as soon as Brexit takes effect).”

Hence no point ratifying anything. Another comment emphasised the key part:

Reading Hansard, it seems that that Jo Johnson used certain phrases repeatedly. This is unlikely to be an accident. More likely, those phrases were drummed into him beforehand so that he could stay “on message”.

One of JJ’s most repeated phrases was that the government wanted to be “in a position to ratify the agreement”. If this repetition is indeed the result of JJ effectively reading from a pre-agreed script, then it is not hard to reach the conclusion that the UK may not rush to deposit its instrument of ratification.

In connection with the UK’s future participation in the UPC, other phrases often repeated (in a number of variations) could well be significant too. These include “we will need to negotiate” and “It would not be appropriate for me to set out unilaterally what the UK’s position will be in advance of those negotiations”.

So, to conclude: whilst reaffirming that it thinks that the UPC is a good idea, the UK government has promised neither swift ratification nor a guarantee of the UK’s continued participation in the UPC… as everything seems to depend upon the outcome of negotiations with the EU.

As we all know, the UK has stated its intention to leave both the single market and the customs union, and to ditch all Treaties that underpin EU law, including TEU, TFEU and EURATOM. How on earth the UK can do this and continue participating in the UPC is anyone’s guess. Indeed, one could be forgiven for gaining the impression that the government is desperately trying to keep all plates spinning for the time being whilst knowing full well that it will be impossible to keep this up indefinitely.

This all means that, instead of asking when the UK will ratify, we ought instead to be asking which of the plates currently spinning will the government allow to come crashing down: the UK’s position on the single market (and the role of the CJEU) or the UK’s position on post-Brexit participation in the UPC?

Whilst I do not know the answer to that question, I most certainly would not like to put money on the UK’s continued participation in the UPC. And this perhaps raises the most pertinent question of all: even if it were able to ratify the UPC in 2018, do we really believe that the German government will do so without knowing whether chaos will reign less than a year later as a result of the UK’s enforced departure from the system?

The latest says this:

Wearily, I suppose this JJ wordplay is all of a piece with the notion that negotiating with EU 27 is all about having in your hand more “cards” to play that the Team on the other side of the negotiating table.

Presumably, the view amongst HMG’s ministers is that one of Macron/Merkel’s highest priorities is to get the UPC up and running, and further, that EU27 ready to pay a high price for UK ratification.

This distorted analysis and headline from Bristows made it through to other people’s tweets, one of which said: “Interesting comment that the UK’s future relationship re UPC would be “subject to negotiation”. Sounds like UPC may be a bargaining chip in the Brexit talks.”

A bargaining chip in whose favour? The UPC would be a curse — not a gift — to Britain. Signatures in the petition suggest so too.

“Imagine how much Bristows lies to clients (for profit) if it lies so much to the public (where it’s harder to get away with it).”Christopher Weber responded to the above from Patrick Kelleher and said: “It is a bargaining chip for the German side from what I heard. No ratification anyway before the Brexit situation is clarified. (German like clarity and certainty).”

Weber had promoted the UPC, but he recently (only days ago) implicitly acknowledged that the UPC is pretty much dead.

Imagine how much Bristows lies to clients (for profit) if it lies so much to the public (where it’s harder to get away with it).

EPO Fiasco Deepens While the Media Writes Puff Pieces About the EPO

Friday 1st of December 2017 12:22:57 AM

The copy-paste-edit ‘artists’ (stenography for Team Battistelli)…

Summary: Ignoring all the internal EPO issues and growing dissatisfaction among users of the European patent system, news sites choose to instead hail patents on life and copy-paste press releases (sent to them by the EPO’s PR team)

THE EPO continues to avoid every debate which actually matters. It refuses to mention anything that users of the patent system actually bring up. Earlier today it spouted out several more “SME”-themed tweets [1, 2], but nothing is ever said about the conflicts, the scandals, and growing concerns/complaints from users. It’s like an alternate universe and as long as the press is being paid or threatened by the EPO it’s not easy to come across actual information. The EPO is ‘googlebombing’ the news with help from external PR agencies.

Professor Broß, a retired German judge, understands that the EPO — as it stands at the moment — is truly defunct. Being retired, he’s able to say this without substantial risk to his career or his reputation. The EPO is not functioning and the UPC can therefore not go ahead. “Prof Broß gave a very thoughtful and detailed speech yesterday,” one UPC booster wrote today. Broß is apparently still active in that area. Of particular interest to him is Battistelli’s attack on the Boards of Appeal. notably judges. Apropos, earlier today the EPO wrote: “You’ll find all practical aspects related to the Boards of Appeal relocation here” (link to the EPO’s site).

Now that the Boards of Appeal do not function properly (fearing Battistelli, grossly understaffed etc.) we cannot expect hard-hitting judgments regarding the Office. The Office is now busy spreading patently untrue claims about patent quality, aided by CPVO (yet again). CPVO tweeted (for the EPO to then retweet) a press release along with this text: “The CPVO and the EPO organised a public seminar to illustrate the way the two offices co-operate to support #innovation on #PlantVarietyProtection and #patent. See press release…”

It’s that same text with the lies about patent quality. The lies are being spread. Shame on CPVO for lending a hand to Battistelli’s lies, which are used to perpetuate injustice/abuse. Truth be told, EPO patent quality has become so bad that it now grants patents on life itself (not even the USPTO did that at the time). Earlier today we saw this new puff piece about CRISPR patents and it said:

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard may lose a substantial number of European patent claims covering CRISPR/Cas9, but it has at least one trump card to play before we get to that stage, one European patent attorney has told LSIPR.

Quite a few people in this area were shocked at what the EPO had done. That made European Patents look like the laughing stock of patents, for patents in this area are verboten pretty much everywhere in the world. Granting patents on life, seeds, plants and genome is no source of pride but a source of great embarrassment. It’s a deviation from the stated purpose of patent systems, but not if one asks sites like the above (an advocate of that) or the EPO-leaning IAM, which earlier today wrote a puff piece to that effect.

Unfortunately, real journalism rather than puff pieces (or copy-paste jobs of EPO press releases) is rather rare when it comes to EPO matters. Earlier today we saw this one exception to that. It’s an article about the workers of the EPO; the EPSU letter got some press coverage (at the end) and it said this:

The European Public Service Union (EPSU) has penned a letter to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Administrative Council chairman, Christopher Ernst, asking the council to reject new renewable five-year fixed-term contracts.

Proposals brought by outgoing EPO president Benoît Battistelli in October, which would scrap permanent employment contracts for all new staff in favour of the fixed-term contracts, were promptly rejected by the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO), which described the move as “Kafkaesque”.

In its letter, EPSU said that a new employment framework that “takes into account the needs of workers, their rights and improves health and safety and well-being, and at the same time seeks to strengthen the work of EPO,” would be worthwhile, but said this would best be done through social dialogue and negotiations rather than imposed precariousness.

EPO drives out almost all the talent that’s left. The new workers, as EPO insiders explain, are less likely to raise concerns about declining patent quality because they’re too new to compare and too insecure in the contractual sense.

The SEP/Patent Trolls’ Lobby Insults the Victims, Calling Them “Free Riders”

Thursday 30th of November 2017 11:48:20 PM

Summary: A tax on standards, in the form of patents (usually software patents), is celebrated by the FRAND/SEP lobby, which basically serves to protect the powerful while blocking everyone else

YESTERDAY we wrote about the EPO‘s friends, who represent or front for patent trolls, influencing the European Commission (EC) into the patent thickets trap. They now add insult to injury.

For those who don’t understand the ramifications, see this new article titled “Qualcomm 5G Royalty Rate Shines Light on Dispute With Apple”, among others [1, 2] (we mentioned more articles about it last night).

“They now add insult to injury.”Now Bristows, which has long pushed the SEP agenda (often in IP Kat, where it also promotes software patents, patent trolls, and UPC) cites and quotes nasty lobbying groups, noting that they’re happy about the EC’s SEP sellout. It said (yesterday): “Today the EU Commission published their much-awaited and debated communication on standard essential patent (SEP) licensing. The document entitled “Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents” contains 14 pages of key principles aimed at fostering a “balanced, smooth and predictable framework for SEPs”. The key principles reflect two stated objectives: (1) incentivising the development and inclusion of technologies in standards by providing fair/adequate return and (2) ensuring fair access to standardized technologies to promote wide dissemination.”

Channeling pro-SEP agenda (like BSA/IP Europe people), it linked to this post, which not only celebrates but also insults. Benjamin Henrion took note of this part: “Where opportunities to find negotiated outcomes have been exhausted, our position remains that courts are the best venue to enforce Intellectual Property Rights, including to find remedies for growing marketplace trends such as ‘patent freeriding’ by implementers that use our innovations without taking a license or paying royalties.”

“Patent freeriders means poor software developers who write code,” Henrion noted. See the “about” section (it’s structured like a press release): “free riders that rely on R&D investments made by others to earn higher profits…”

“No signs of dignity there.”Apart from the fact that it’s a slur which dodges a real debate about how standards come into being, it also stigmatises the ‘opposition’. No signs of dignity there.

“The SEPs guidance was particularly well received,” Managing IP wrote today. “Well received”? By who?!

Well, patent trolls and cartels. But Managing IP works for them, so that’s all that matters apparently.

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby is Already Pushing for the USPTO to Help Make Patent Trolls “Great Again”

Thursday 30th of November 2017 05:04:35 PM

Related: Watchtroll, IAM, and the Plot to Overthrow Patent Reformer at the USPTO in Order to Make Litigation (and Trolls) Great Again

Summary: Sites such as Watchtroll and IAM already try very hard to influence and manipulate the patent system into becoming more permissive (for patent trolls) while emboldened by the idea that a “Patent Evangelist” (as IP Watch put it) is being put in charge of the US patent office (USPTO)

THE year 2017 has only one month left. Throughout the year, on many occasions, IAM heavily lobbied (usually by shaming) the Indian patent system into introducing software patents. IAM is basically a lobbying organ and we know who’s funding it. It is sometimes publicly disclosed (sometimes reluctantly or accidentally). Earlier this week it received some more money from the patent ‘industry’ in India (it typically runs pro-software patents pieces for this ‘industry’, which harms India’s reputable software industry).

What we would rather turn our attention to, however, is this IAM event with the USPTO‘s Director Matal in it. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, together with Watchtroll, helped promote a misguided politician who wants to help trolls. We are quite surprised that Matal agreed to attend after this lobby had attacked Michelle Lee, his close colleague. Watchtroll and IAM are agitator sites that provoke patent defendants and politicians/officials who pursue science, patent sanity, and patent justice. They’re backed and/or funded by truly nefarious actors and they know it. EPO management is among these actors.

Days ago we wrote about Iancu, the next Director of the USPTO, which Trump is making a swamp of. IP Watch wrote about it yesterday. To quote:

President Trump’s nominee to be the next director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Andrei Iancu, could receive Senate committee approval by the holidays if things line up just right. If appointed, he told a nomination hearing today that he would “evangelize” the IP system and make possible reform of the patent review process a high priority.

Now watch how the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, responds. It is already putting pressure on Iancu, including these debunked points regarding software patents:

1) Does Congress need to act to clear up the uncertainty around 101?

Thanks to a succession of decisions from the Supreme Court a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over just what is patent eligible in the US. That is particularly true in medical diagnostics, but has also affected parts of the tech industry. There is a growing sense that Congress needs to take action to bring greater clarity to section 101 of the US patent statute — the part that focuses on patent eligible subject matter — but just six years after the America Invents Act, does Iancu agree that more legislation is needed?

The list goes on. They know that Iancu is the “swamp” (patent system governed by the patent ‘industry’) and they have just added: “A quick overall summary: Iancu seems opposed to further anti-troll legislation, at least for now; recognises there are serious issues with eligibility following SCOTUS cases; acknowledges widespread disquiet with IPR regime; understands inventors need incentives & protections.”

If Trump’s definition of “swamp” is people who don’t give absolutely everything to billionaires and oligarchs, then that makes perfect sense. He’s now doing that to the USPTO too. Conservative patent extremists are loving it. They don’t have anything to do with science and technology anyway.

EPO’s Minnoye “Pushed for Quick Searches and Quick Grants, With the Result That Every Recent File Was De Facto Dealt With Under PACE.”

Thursday 30th of November 2017 04:27:19 PM

Treating the EPC like he treated the Supreme Court

Summary: Willy Minnoye, a former EPO Vice-President (DG 1), left a troubling legacy of lots of low-quality patents which generally damage the perception of European Patents being legitimate and difficult to successfully challenge; moreover, phantoms of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which is routinely being violated by the President of the EPO, come back to haunt the patent ‘industry’ (the subject came up last week)

MR. Minnoye retired from the EPO earlier this year, but the damage he had done isn’t over. As one comment put it a short while ago, it “remains to be seen if the new Chairman of the AC [Dr. Ernst] will be in a position to resist a move from the EPO,” alluding to issues that recently resurfaced and the EPO tries hard to distract from. To quote:

Another reason why the overall position of the EPO has anything but strengthened by the tenant of the 10th floor is the recent proposal of VP Operations at the EPI Council in Warsaw to introduce deferred examination!

If deferred examination is now seen as a solution alleged problems at the EPO, it means that the present president will go from early certainty to long term uncertainty. What a move for the better!!

The predecessor of Mr Minnoye had taken measures to reduce the backlog of old files. And it worked fine, but efforts were needed. When taking over, his successor, Mr Minnoye, VP1 until June 2017, has ignored those measures, and merely pushed for quick searches and quick grants, with the result that every recent file was de facto dealt with under PACE. I refer to Mr Bausch’s earlier comments about this topic on this blog.

Deferred examination was foreseen in Art 95EPC 1973, and has been deleted in EPC 2000. It was thus clearly the will of the legislator not to allow deferred examination. There is thus no legal basis for such a move.

There again, trying to introduce such a measure shortly before a successor takes office, show the contempt of the present incumbent towards its successor.

It remains to be seen if the new Chairman of the AC will be in a position to resist a move from the EPO to introduce such an odd measure.

Yes, those are all legitimate points. Watch the response/correction to the above (from ‘Enough is enough”):

https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/1973/e/ar95.html

Enough is enough,

http://www.aicipi.it/docs/deferred_examination.pdf

states that the reason to delete Art 95 had been that it was too restrictive in allowing deferred examination. Deleting it meant that deferred examination was not limited to a temporary measure by the EPO to manage a short term problem.

It does not surprise us that the EPO now floats in a post-EPC world, basically unhinged from any legal document (which is being actively enforced/adhered to). This is crazy! Appeals now lack independence from the Office (judges complain about Battistelli’s overreach) and what about oppositions? They too must be feeling pressured by the ‘production’ targets. Yesterday a firm circulated this press release which said:

Forward Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:FWP) (“Forward” or the “Company”) today announced the filing of further written submissions in the European Opposition Proceeding for the EP2801355 patent (“the ‘355 patent”) with the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (“EPO”).

“We continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property and have filed strong argumentation to uphold our issued ‘355 patent,” said Dr. Claus Bo Svendsen, CEO of Forward. He further added, “both the ‘355 opposition and the U.S. appeal are progressing as planned and we expect decisions in both Europe and United States in 2018.”

We sometimes feel like the harm to the EPO’s reputation is so profound that the EPO may never recover. Considering Ernst’s rejections of the stakeholders’ assertions regarding patent quality, none of this is going to change. The next President, who is relatively young, will just be a ‘softer’ version of Battistelli.

ILO is About to Publish “Exceptional” Decisions, Most of Them Regarding the EPO

Thursday 30th of November 2017 03:51:45 PM

Recent: Systemic Injustice at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Causes Serious Harm to Complainants’ Health, Including EPO Complainants


Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO

Summary: The International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is responsible for ‘externally’ auditing a large number of international organisations to assure justice, prepares to say exceptional things about 5 appeals which emanated from the EPO

JUSTICE is dead at the EPO. It’s not just on its death throes, it’s literally dead. Even judges are subjected to gross injustice and are now at the receiving end of legal bullying (e.g. the judge who is still permanently suspended and in limbo in Munich because of a defamation case).

This is where ILO was, in principle, supposed to step in and intervene, but it does not. It’s embarrassing not just for the EPO but for ILO too. ILO hopefully recognises by now that it’s growingly complicit in EPO abuses because ILO is, for a verifiable fact, cited by Dutch authorities as an excuse for exempting the EPO from the law (even when it clearly and flagrantly violates Dutch law). It’s incredible that something so bad is happening in Europe and most politicians remain apathetic. They don’t wish to rock this boat for various personal/career reasons.

“ILO hopefully recognises by now that it’s growingly complicit in EPO abuses because ILO is, for a verifiable fact, cited by Dutch authorities as an excuse for exempting the EPO from the law (even when it clearly and flagrantly violates Dutch law)”Focusing again on the aforementioned attack on the judge — a poetic move in the sense that it’s injustice against a justice maker — early in the month we wrote about the latest on this (planned party of Battistelli) and 11 days ago we learned that almost nobody will attend. Appeals at the EPO are no longer possible because judges admittedly lack a sense of independence and watch how Battistelli sneaks into the Boards, reminding them that they have no independence at all.

Sent to every member of the appeals board: “The official inauguration of the new premises will take place on 14 December in connection with the 154th meeting of the administrative council. The president of the office and the president of the boards of appeal invite you to this event, which is planned from 12:45 to 14:00 including speeches and a flying buffet lunch. For those of you interested in coming, please indicate it by reform of this email, latest by Monday 4 December noon.”

“ILO failed to fulfill its duties, at least as far as the EPO is concerned.”The “president of the office” is Battistelli. He wants to absolutely control everything and he wants people whom he punished to celebrate this punlishment with him. What a nerve this sociopath has. The authors of the EPC must be turning in their graves (few are likely to be alive at this stage).

In any event, might some reprieve be on the way? ILO, according to this comment from yesterday, has news: (13 comments in that thread now)

The ILO Administrative Tribunal has now announced the exceptional public delivery on December 6 of a series of judgements including no less than FIVE cases against the EPO, which it considers have to be delivered rapidly (i.e. perhaps just in time for the December session of the AC?)
Obviously a few more dark clouds over Battistelli’s achievements under the benevolent supervision of the AC.

http://www.ilo.org/tribunal/news/WCMS_606486/lang–en/index.htm

According to the original, ILO is going to say something very important about the EPO as early as next week. We don’t know which cases it’s about, but 5 out of 8 cases are to involve the EPO. To quote:

The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public eight judgments adopted at its 125th Session separately and earlier than the remaining 79 judgments also adopted at the same session.

The eight judgments concern 2 cases against the CDE, 5 cases against the EPO and 1 case against the UPU.

The Tribunal has considered for various reasons that those judgments should be delivered rapidly.

They will be announced in public on Wednesday, 6 December 2017 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2) and will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the delivery.

The remaining judgments adopted at the 125th Session will be delivered on Wednesday, 24 January 2018.

We certainly hope that ILO understands the degree to which its inaction contributed to depression (maybe even suicides) and perhaps irreversible collapse of the EPO. ILO failed to fulfill its duties, at least as far as the EPO is concerned.

Links 30/11/2017: PHP 7.2 and Cutelyst 1.11.0

Thursday 30th of November 2017 02:00:34 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • 2017: A year of highs and lows for Linux and open source

    Ah, 2017, it was a good year for Linux—one that continued the solidification of the open source platform on so many levels. From the consumer mobile space to supercomputers, Linux dominated certain sectors in a way no other platform could.

    Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the year—both the highs and lows—and hopefully draw a conclusion that 2017 was a banner year for Linux.

  • Desktop
    • Chromebook Users Can Now Take Android-Like Screenshots While in Tablet Mode

      Google’s Chromium evangelist François Beaufort shares today with us a new feature for Chromebooks, the ability to take Android-like screenshots in Chrome OS.

      Discovered last month via a commit in the Chromium Gerrit repository, the Android-like screenshot functionality has landed today in the Chrome OS Dev channel and you can enjoy it right now on your Chromebook if you enabled the developer channel.

  • Kernel Space
    • KAISER: hiding the kernel from user space

      Since the beginning, Linux has mapped the kernel’s memory into the address space of every running process. There are solid performance reasons for doing this, and the processor’s memory-management unit can ordinarily be trusted to prevent user space from accessing that memory. More recently, though, some more subtle security issues related to this mapping have come to light, leading to the rapid development of a new patch set that ends this longstanding practice for the x86 architecture.

    • Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation Announces 22 New Silver Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced that 22 new organizations have joined the Foundation as Silver members. Linux Foundation members help support development of the greatest shared technology resources in history, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation.

    • Graphics Stack
      • 16-bit Vulkan/SPIR-V Support Revised For Intel’s Driver

        Igalia developers have published their latest version of the big patch-set implementing 16-bit support within Intel’s Vulkan driver and supporting the necessary 16-bit storage SPIR-V changes.

        Developers at consulting firm Igalia have been tasked the past few months with getting this 16-bit data “half float” support in place for the Intel open-source Vulkan driver with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and SPIR-V’s SPV_KHR_16bit_storage along with the necessary plumbing to Mesa’s GLSL and NIR code.

      • The Many Open-Source Radeon Linux Driver Advancements Of 2017

        There were many sizable open-source Radeon Linux driver accomplishments this year. It was this year in which the RadeonSI OpenGL driver matured enough to compete with — and sometimes surpass — the Radeon Windows driver when talking raw OpenGL performance, RadeonSI can also outperform the AMDGPU-PRO OpenGL hybrid driver in many Linux gaming tests, the RADV Vulkan driver matured a lot, and many other milestones were reached.

        Given the latest round of Windows vs. Linux Radeon gaming tests yesterday and the end of the year quickly approaching, I figured I would provide a list now about some of the major feats reached this year for the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack.

      • Compute Shader & GLSL 4.30 Support For R600 Gallium3D

        After recently getting some older Radeon GPUs to OpenGL 4.2 with new R600g patches and making other improvements to R600g, David Airlie has now sent out a set of patches for getting compute shaders and GLSL 4.30 working for some older pre-GCN GPUs with the R600 Gallium3D driver.

        Airlie sent out today patches getting compute shaders and GL Shading Language 4.30 working in R600g. It seems to be working out the best at the moment with the Radeon HD 6400 “Caicos” graphics cards while the HD 6900 “Cayman” series currently hangs on compute. For running OpenGL 4 on R600g, the HD 5800 series and HD 6900 series generally tends to be the best due to having real FP64 support working where as the other generations of hardware only expose OpenGL 3.3 by default (but can use a version override to later GL4 versions if not needing FP64 support).

    • Benchmarks
      • Windows 10 vs. Linux 4.15 + Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon Gaming Performance

        As we end out November, here is a fresh look at the current Windows 10 Pro Fall Creator’s Update versus Ubuntu 17.10 with the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon graphics driver stack as we see how various games compete under Windows 10 and Linux with these latest AMD drivers on the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards.

      • The fastest and slowest versions of Linux

        To see which version of Linux is the quickest, Phoronix has conducted a set of benchmarks measuring the total boot time of 11 Linux distributions.

        The tests also measured the boot time of separate components, such as the loader and kernel of each distribution.

        Systemd benchmark, part of Phoronix Test Suite 7.4.0, was used to benchmark the boot time of the distributions, and the results were published on OpenBenchmarking.org.

        The tests show that the boot time of Linux distributions can vary substantially, with some systems taking over twice as long to boot up as others.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Cutelyst 1.11.0 released!

        Cutelyst the Qt Web framework got a new release, this is likely to be the last of the year and will be one of lasts releases of the 1.x.x series. I’d like to add HTTP/2 support before branching 1.x.x and having master as 2.0 but I’m not yet sure I’ll do that yet.

        For the next year I’d like to have Cutelyst 2 packaged on most distros soon due Ubuntu’s LTS being released in April, and H2 might delay this or I delay it since it can be done using a front-end server like Nginx.

      • Kubuntu Kafe Live approaching

        This Saturday ( December 2nd ) the second Kubuntu Kafe Live, our online video cafe will be taking place from 21:00 UTC.
        Join the Kubuntu development community, and guests as our intrepid hosts.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Large number of XML Nodes and GXml performance

        GXml performance has been improved since initial releases.

        First implementation parse all to libxml2 tree and then to a GObject set of classes, in order to provide GObject Serialization framework.

        Over time GXmlGom was added as a set of classes avoiding to use libxml2 tree improving both memory and performance on Serialization.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Solus Review For Casual Users

        I have been watching the progress with Solus Linux from afar for some time now. I’ve even had other Freedom Penguin contributors share their thoughts on Solus. So when I decided to give everyone my review, I wanted to make sure I cover the basics…then move on to the stuff I cared about – using it as a daily driver.

        Solus is not based on any other distro. It’s a Linux unto itself and this article shares my experience with it.

    • New Releases
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Univention Corporate Server 4.2 OS Gets Microsoft AD Improvements

          Coming two and a half months after the second point release, Univention Corporate Server 4.2-3 is a small maintenance update that appears to mostly address various regressions reported by users from previous versions of the operating systems. These include more checks for Microsoft Active Directory (AD) domains and expanded configurability and usability of the management system.

          “The usability and configurability of the management system were further expanded. The design of the assistants and dialogues of the management system was revised with regard to usability aspects,” explains developer Nico Gulden. “Additional configuration options for the single sign-on of the management system have also been added, e. g. the configurability of the certificate used.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Someone Tries to Bring Back Ubuntu’s Unity from the Dead as an Official Spin

              Long-time Ubuntu member Dale Beaudoin ran a poll last week on the official Ubuntu forums to take the pulse of the community and see if they are interested in an Ubuntu Unity Remix that would be released alongside Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) next year and be supported for nine months or five years.

              Thirty people voted in the poll, with 67 percent of them opting for an LTS (Long Term Support) release of the so-called Ubuntu Unity Remix, while 33 percent voted for the 9-month supported release. It also looks like this upcoming Ubuntu Unity Spin looks to become an official flavor, yet this means commitment from those developing it.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Is Available To Download

              Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” has been released and is available to download from the official website. The release is based on Ubuntu 16.04, contains many improvements and new applications. Some important software were rewritten making them work much faster and look cleaner. Some less useful applications have also been removed to clean the system installation. So let’s look at the major improvements in Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia”.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon and MATE editions released
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Making open source evergreen

    Danese Cooper is one of open source’s strongest advocates, credited with advancing the open sourcing of technology at major companies including Sun Microsystems, Intel, and now PayPal, where she has served as head of open source since 2014.

    In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “Making Open Source Evergreen,” Danese presented a ringing call to arms about what she considers open source’s most pressing problem: “Not knowing how to make the right choices for the future of the movement.”

  • Tech giants are using open source frameworks to dominate the AI community

    Tech giants such as Google and Baidu spent from $20 billion to $30 billion on AI last year, according to the recent McKinsey Global Institute Study. Out of this wealth, 90 percent fueled R&D and deployment, and 10 percent went toward AI acquisitions.

    Research plays a crucial role in the AI movement, and tech giants have to do everything in their power to seem viable to the AI community. AI is mostly based on research advances and state-of-the-art technology, which is advancing very quickly. Therefore, there is no business need to make closed infrastructure solutions, because within a few months everything will be totally different.

  • Apache Impala, a native analytics database for Hadoop

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has graduated Apache Impala to become a Top-Level Project (TLP).

    Apache Impala itself is an analytic database for Apache Hadoop, the open source software framework used for distributed storage and processing of dataset of big data.

  • Vespa, Yahoo’s search code, released as open source

    Vespa, Yahoo’s big data processing and serving engine, has been released as open source by Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that’s been the owner of record of Yahoo since June 2017. It is now available on GitHub.

    With over 1 billion users, Vespa is currently used across many different Oath brands – including Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Gemini and Flickr, to process and serve billions of daily requests over billions of documents while responding to search queries, making recommendations, and providing personalised content and advertisements.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s new open source model aims to revolutionize voice recognition

        You may have noticed the steady and sure progress of voice recognition tech in recent times – all the big tech firms want to make strides in this arena if only to improve their digital assistants, from Cortana to Siri – but Mozilla wants to push harder, and more broadly, on this front with the release of an open source speech recognition model.

      • Mozilla releases open source speech recognition tools
      • Announcing the Initial Release of Mozilla’s Open Source Speech Recognition Model and Voice Dataset

        With the holiday, gift-giving season upon us, many people are about to experience the ease and power of new speech-enabled devices. Technical advancements have fueled the growth of speech interfaces through the availability of machine learning tools, resulting in more Internet-connected products that can listen and respond to us than ever before.

        At Mozilla we’re excited about the potential of speech recognition. We believe this technology can and will enable a wave of innovative products and services, and that it should be available to everyone.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • European Commission launches first ever bug bounty

      The European Commission has launched its first ever bug bounty. It will award between EUR 100 and EUR 3000 for bugs found in VLC media player. The programme will run until the first weeks of January or until the bounty budget is exhausted.

      Which bugs will qualify for an award is at the discretion of the VLC team, according to the announcement by HackerOne, a commercial bug bounty platform. “Qualified security vulnerabilities will be rewarded based on severity and impact,” HackerOne says.

      In the first phase, the programme will invite hackers with previous experience on the HackerOne platform to participate. After three weeks, the programme will be opened to everyone.

  • Licensing/Legal
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • A Growing Open Access Toolbox

        Legal methods to retrieve paywalled articles for free are on the rise, but better self-archiving practices could help improve accessibility.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • An OpenHardware 1-port Hub?

        I’ve spent the last couple of evenings designing an OpenHardware USB 2.0 1-port hub tentatively called the ColorHub (although, better ideas certainly welcome). Back a bit: What’s the point in a 1-port hub?

  • Programming/Development
    • SciPy reaches 1.0

      After 16 years of evolution, the SciPy project has reached version 1.0. SciPy, a free-software project, has become one of the most popular computational toolkits for scientists from a wide range of disciplines, and is largely responsible for the ascendancy of Python in many areas of scientific research. While the 1.0 release is significant, much of the underlying software has been stable for some time; the “1.0″ version number reflects that the project as a whole is on solid footing.

    • Javascript and Functional Programming: An Introduction

      Most importantly, these tools and paradigms are going to help us achieve our (my) ultimate goal of shipping products faster. Stay tuned for the next post, where we discuss functions in JS, why they are special and how their characteristics enable functional programming.

Leftovers
  • Top software failures – the worst software glitches in recent history

    There have been different ransomware attacks, IT failures, data leakages and more which have affected organisations and customers around the world. Let’s take a look back at the worst software failures in recent history.

  • Tap the power of community with organized chaos

    In this article, I want to share with you of the power of an unconference—because I believe it’s a technique anyone can use to generate innovative ideas, harness the power of participation, and strengthen community ties. I’ve developed a 90-minute session that mimics the effects of an unconference, and you can use it to generate engagement with a small group of people and tap into their ideas surrounding a topic of your choice.

    An “unconference” is a loosely organized event format designed specifically to maximize the exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge in a group driven by a common purpose. While the structure of an unconference is planned, the content and exchange of ideas for breakout sessions is not. Participants plan and execute unconference sessions by voting on the content they’d like to experience.

  • Science
    • House GOP to Propose Sweeping Changes to Higher Education

      The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives this week will propose sweeping legislation that aims to change where Americans go to college, how they pay for it, what they study, and how their success—or failure—affects the institutions they attend.

      The most dramatic and far-reaching element of the plan is a radical revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student loan program. It would put caps on borrowing and eliminate some loan forgiveness programs.

      The ambitious package—a summary of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal—would be the biggest overhaul of education policy in decades. The rising expense of higher education is deeply troubling to many Americans and many increasingly question its value. Despite a steady rise in the share of high-school graduates heading to college, a skills gap has left more than 6 million jobs unfilled, a significant drag on the economy.

  • Security
    • SEC hack [sic] was preceded by years of warnings about lax cybersecurity

      After the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosed in September that its EDGAR corporate filing system had been hacked [sic] a year earlier, Chairman Jay Clayton declared cybersecurity one of his agency’s top priorities.

    • Intel’s “Management Engine”

      Concern about the ME goes back further. Sparked by a talk given at the Chaos Computer Conference by [Joanna Rutkowska] of the Qubes OS project, back in January 2016 Brian Benchoff at Hackaday wrote:

      Extremely little is known about the ME, except for some of its capabilities. The ME has complete access to all of a computer’s memory, its network connections, and every peripheral connected to a computer. It runs when the computer is hibernating, and can intercept TCP/IP traffic. Own the ME and you own the computer.

    • Here’s How to Temporarily Fix the macOS High Sierra Bug That Gives Full Admin Access to Your Mac Sans Password

      A newly discovered bug in macOS High Sierra enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check, essentially giving anyone full access to your Mac.

      Apple is likely already working on a fix, but in the meantime, there’s a temporary workaround — enabling the root user with a password.

    • Anyone Can Hack [sic] MacOS High Sierra Just by Typing “Root”
    • Major Apple security flaw grants admin access on macOS High Sierra without password

      However, The Verge has been able to confirm the major security issue remains present as of MacOS 10.13.1, the current release of High Sierra. When the problem is exploited, the user is authenticated into a “System Administrator” account and is given full ability to view files and even reset or change passwords for pre-existing users on that machine. Apple ID email addresses tied to users on the Mac can be removed and altered, as well. There are likely many more ways that someone taking advantage of the issue could wreak havoc on a Mac desktop or laptop.

    • New security update fixes macOS root bug
    • How Robust is the Randomness?
    • Hacker pleads guilty to huge Yahoo hack, admits helping Russia’s FSB

      A Canadian man has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to a 2014 spear-phishing operation of Yahoo employees. The hack ultimately compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts.

      The operative, Karim Baratov, appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday afternoon. He also admitted that his role was to “hack webmail accounts of individuals of interest to the FSB,” the Russian internal security service. Baratov then sent those passwords to his alleged co-conspirator, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev.

    • Some Websites Are Mining Cryptocurrency Using Your CPU Even When You Close Browser

      The advent of cryptocurrencies was bound to spark the interest of cybercriminals who are always looking to exploit some technology to steal some clicks or install malware. In the recent times, we’ve come across reports of a huge number of websites using your PCU power to mine cryptocurrency; the browser extensions and Android apps aren’t untouched by this epidemic. Developers have also come up with different options to ban this practice altogether.

      In the previous research work conducted by security firms, it was found that a miner could be run as long as the browser was running; close the browser and mining activity stops. However, as per the latest technique spotted by Malwarebytes, some dubious website owners can mine digital coins like Monero even after browser window is closed.

    • Top 10 Common Hacking Techniques You Should Know About

      Using simple hacks, a hacker can know about your personal unauthorized information which you might not want to reveal. Knowing about these common hacking techniques like phishing, DDoS, clickjacking etc., could come handy for your personal safety.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ROCA: Return Of the Coppersmith Attack

      On October 30, 2017, a group of Czech researchers from Masaryk University presented the ROCA paper at the ACM CCS Conference, which earned the Real-World Impact Award. We briefly mentioned ROCA when it was first reported but haven’t dug into details of the vulnerability yet. Because of its far-ranging impact, it seems important to review the vulnerability in light of the new results published recently.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia

      The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

      The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.

      Saudi Arabia needs approval from the U.S. in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn’t commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.

    • How Trump Botched Iran Policy

      Erdbrink summarizes the overall effect this way: “In short, it appears that Mr. Trump and the Saudis have helped the government achieve what years of repression could never accomplish: widespread public support for the hard-line view that the United States and Riyadh cannot be trusted and that Iran is now a strong and capable state capable of staring down its enemies.”

      Such an effect is unsurprising. Nor are the underlying dynamics unique to Iran. Two fundamental processes are at work in Iran to produce the effect Erdbrink is observing. Both are foreshadowed by many earlier experiences of countries that felt especially threatened by a foreign power.

      One is the tendency of nations to unite and to overcome internal differences in the face of such a threat. This is the familiar phenomenon of rallying around the flag. Iranians are rallying around their flag today.

    • Refusing to Learn Bloody Lessons

      President Trump’s continued Afghan War pursues the same failed path as the prior 16 years, with the U.S. political/media elites learning no lessons, says former Marine officer Matthew Hoh in an interview with the American Herald Tribune.

    • US Bows to Israeli/Saudi Alliance in Blaming Iran

      At first, American officials couldn’t believe it. In 1993, the Israelis began pressuring the Clinton administration to view Iran as the greatest global threat. Only a short time earlier, in the 1980s, Israel had been cooperating with the Iranians militarily and selling them weapons to fight Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.

    • A rare moment of bipartisan unity: Can Congress check Trump’s war powers?

      Trump has always been petty, but this was particularly obnoxious. He had already demanded gratitude from the players themselves, and they had thanked him publicly for speaking to the Chinese president on their behalf. He simply couldn’t rise above his voracious need for approbation to let LaVar Ball’s criticism go and behave like a mature statesman. Worse, he showed foreign leaders once again that he can be manipulated through even the smallest slights or granting of favors. The man simply cannot play it cool.

      His trips overseas have shown that he knows nothing of diplomacy and has no natural instinct for it. Trump has been rude and aggressive toward America’s European allies until they figured out that he needs to be treated like a spoiled dauphin and treated to big spectacles, as French President Emmanuel Macron did when he invited Trump to the Bastille Day celebrations in July.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Russia-gate Inquisitors Subpoena Journalist

      The House Intelligence Committee, as part of its Russia-gate investigation, has issued a subpoena demanding the testimony of journalist-activist-and-satirist Randy Credico presumably because he produced a series on WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who oversaw the publication of leaked Democratic Party emails in 2016.

  • Finance
    • Global cryptocurrency crackdown sparks search for safe havens
    • Tory Brexiters to protest to No 10 about deal on £60bn divorce bill

      Hardline Tory Eurosceptics will protest to No 10 about Theresa May agreeing to pay a £60bn Brexit divorce bill over many years, with some warning they could be prepared to vote down a final deal if they do not ultimately get what they want.

      One Conservative MP said some members of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group were demanding a meeting with Julian Smith, the new chief whip, to make clear their unease with the idea of phased payments lasting many years.

    • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

      As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America’s hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid).

      But the left wing of the Democratic Party has articulated a different vision for the future of the American citizens who live in these places: a “messaging bill” proposing $146 billion in aid to the islands, accompanied by debt forgiveness, in a package they call “A Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico.”

    • Here’s How $30 Billion In Bitcoins Got Lost Forever

      Cold Storage is one of the most interesting features of Bitcoin as it allows us to reserve cryptocurrency with extra precaution. It could be done using a USB drive, a paper wallet, an offline Bitcoin hardware wallet, etc. However, if you lose the access to such cold storage device, your digital currency gets lost.

    • Divided Britain, where the Brexit alarm is sounded but no one wants to hear

      There is a campaign running at the moment to inform people of the dangers of drug resistance. “Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family it risk,” shout the posters. GPs are familiar with the problem. Patients want medicine and don’t like hearing that their flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics, which treat bacterial infection, won’t work. Misusing the pills nurtures vicious bugs that defy treatment when it is actually required.

      Seeing the slogan, I find it hard not to think that Brexit will one day be recorded as case of quack political medicine on an industrial scale. The obvious diagnosis of the referendum outcome was a majority desire to leave the EU, so the response necessarily begins with a commitment to do just that. The democratic treatment of an election cannot be to ignore the result.

    • Puerto Rican Students Organize National Strike Demanding Transparency in Response to Austerity Measures

      University students across Puerto Rico organized a national strike that sparked demonstrations and protests on May 1, 2017, as reported by David Cordero, Sarah Vázquez, and Ronald Ávila Claudio for the Metro. The strike, el Paro Nacional, resulted from public outrage over announced austerity measures affecting education and pensions, as well as outrage over the lack of transparency in the process through which those measures were approved. Due to a mass promotion effort, multiple civic organizations, student groups, and individual citizens came together to stop all work and engage in protest.

      The austerity measures, including $512 million in cuts to university funding, were to be implemented by a fiscal joint committee, la Junta de Control Fiscal, as part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), a US federal law responding to the island’s fiscal crisis. PROMESA, introduced by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) on May 18, 2016 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 30, 2016, established the joint committee as “an Oversight Board with broad powers of budgetary and financial control over Puerto Rico.”

    • Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students

      The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students.

      It’s a little bit wonky, so stay with me here. I’ll explain how it affects me, since I’m an actual graduate student.

      Going to grad school would’ve been entirely out of reach for me if I had to pay full tuition for my education. Getting a PhD takes at least five years and often more. I don’t have a spouse, trust fund, or parents to cover my cost of living or my tuition.

      If I had to pay for my own education, it would’ve been simply out of the question. This is hardly uncommon.

    • Why The Republican Tax Plans Do Nothing To Help Genuine Small Businesses

      Republican tax plans passed in the House and out of the Senate Finance Committee contain provisions that their defenders claim will help small businesses by lowering top tax rates on “pass-through” income. The House Republican plan includes a new top tax rate of 25 percent on pass-through income. The Senate version of this proposal is different and more complicated, but the broad outcome is the same—a new, lower top tax rate on income that comes from pass-through businesses.

      These changes will not help genuine small businesses, however. The most important thing to remember in this debate is simply that while all small businesses are pass-through businesses, not all pass-through businesses are small businesses. This report fills in some details about the relationship between pass-through businesses and small businesses.

    • Monetary Imperialism

      In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and “foreign aid” (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

      Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc. In Koch-Backed Deal

      The Iowa-based publisher, Meredith has agreed to pay $18.50 a share for Time —the New York publisher of People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, which Meredith announced in a press release Sunday night.

    • Trump Firms Must Save Records for AGs’ Emoluments Lawsuit
    • Trumpland Has ‘The Sky Is Green’ Problem

      As frustrating as it is to have the President and others in position of power lie to the public, the question can be fairly asked: What does the Supreme Court have to say about this mendacity?

      The answer may disappoint you. Recent cases show that the Supreme Court has given Americans wide latitude to lie in everyday life. Take the case of Xavier Alvarez, a board member of the Three Valleys Water District in Claremont, California. At his first public meeting, Alvarez introduced himself by saying “I’m a retired marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.”

      None of what Alvarez said was true. Not only had he not won the Congressional Medal of Honor, he had never even served in the U.S. military. Alvarez stepped on something of a land mine by claiming he won the Congressional of Medal of Honor. President George W. Bush signed into law the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which made it a misdemeanor to falsely represent that one had received any U.S. military decoration or medal. Although the Act set the usual penalty at up to six months in prison, special opprobrium was reserved for the Medal of Honor: the prison term could be as much as a year.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • French porn star piqued over Macron’s desire to crackdown on X-rated films
    • Victorian Censorship: Research Finds Section 67 of IT Act Being Grossly Misused

      Two years after the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, new research points at how another section of the Act is being similarly misused with grave consequences for freedom of expression, sexuality and digital rights.

      A research study by Point of View, a non-profit organisation that works on gender-rights, against sexual violence, and on digital rights of women, has drawn attention to the indiscriminate and increasing use of Section 67 of the IT Act by the police. The first ever in-depth study of Section 67 finds that it is leaning suspiciously towards the draconian Section 66A.

    • Watch live as City Club forum discusses censorship in schools

      Should the United States standardize what needs to be taught to students? Where is the line drawn on censoring ideas in education?

    • Animal Activists Stop Hiding Their Faces

      Because of so-called “ag-gag” laws enacted in eight states, people in animal rescue videos often blur out their own faces and keep their identities private, Butler reported. However, DxE activists do not hide their identities, despite the risks involved. DxE activist Wayne Hsiung said, “We’re daring these industries to try us in the court of public opinion and in the court of law… We are happy to have the debate with the industry. They are terrified that the public will side with us.” The group says that, to date, its twelve open rescue videos on Youtube have received over three million views combined.

    • Backlash Against Russian ‘Fake News’ Is Shutting Down Debate for Real

      A few days before the Halloween hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where powerful tech companies would provide testimony about their roles disseminating “fake news” during the 2016 election, Twitter announced it would no longer accept advertising from the Russian government-sponsored broadcast channel Russia Today (RT), or the state-owned Sputnik.

      In a Twitter PublicPolicy blog post (10/26/17), the company said it would “off-board advertising from all accounts” owned by RT and Sputnik. The decision was based on its own assessment of the 2016 US election “and the US intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government.” As substantiation, Twitter merely provided a link to the January 6, 2017, intelligence report (ODNI).

      BuzzFeed (11/1/17) reported that Twitter based its decision on the intelligence report that called RT “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” also providing a link to the report without a word about its documentation or quality. Most reporting did the same, including the New York Times (10/26/17), which said Twitter’s decision “was informed by specific findings of the United States intelligence community, made public in January.”

    • Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?

      Does the Constitution allow a public official to block people on social media? It depends.

      Thanks to a growing number of state and local government officials, not to mention national actors like President Trump, questions abound these days about the constitutionality of public officials blocking people on social media.

      The answers to those questions are complicated and depend on the facts of any given case. But, as we explain in a brief we filed in a Virginia lawsuit this week, the proper framework for courts to use in considering these cases should ensure that as our democracy increasingly moves online, the Constitution applies with no less force on the internet than it does offline.

      Two main principles should govern these cases: First, individuals do not lose their First Amendment rights just by virtue of gaining public office, no matter how powerful they are. Second, when they act on behalf of the government, elected officials are also subject to the limits that the First Amendment imposes on them as government actors.

      To answer this conundrum, courts must begin by asking which role a public official embodies on a given social media account: that of a private speaker or a government actor. If the answer is “private speaker,” she can limit her audience and curate the messages on the page, just like any other member of the public. But if the answer is “government actor,” the First Amendment dictates that she can’t prohibit access to her social media in three specific circumstances.

    • House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like the Senate Bill, Except Worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

      We’ve already written extensively about SESTA and the dangers it would pose to online communities, but as the House of Representatives considers moving on FOSTA, it’s time to reiterate that all of the major flaws in SESTA are in FOSTA too.

    • Presidential Censorship Executed: Radio Station Shut Down

      Gendarmes reportedly stormed the premises on November 27, 2017, shortly after the ‘forbidden’ interview and carried out the orders of the governor of Labe to close down the station. The action of the governor, Mamadou Saïdou Diallo, came just two days after President Alpha Conde threatened to shut down any radio station which will give coverage to Aboubacar Soumah, Deputy Secretary General of the Free Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea (SLECG). Soumah is the coordinator of a general strike by members of the SLECG which in its second week and which President Conde has described as a rebellion.

    • Sweden’s New Government Censorship

      The Swedish government is now officially questioning free speech. A government agency has declared so-called Swedish “new media” — news outlets that refuse to subscribe to the politically correct orthodoxies of the mainstream media — a possible threat to democracy. In a government report, tellingly called “The White Hatred” written by Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (Total Defense Research Institute), a government agency under the Swedish Ministry of Defense, Swedish new media such as Samhällsnytt (formerly known as Avpixlat), Nyheter Idag and Nya Tider are lumped together with neo-Nazi media such as Nordfront.

    • Why is a Bollywood film sparking threats of violence?

      The Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’ is swirling in controversy, so much so that its release in India has been postponed and its international debut left uncertain.

      The film recounts the story of a Muslim sultan who attacks a kingdom in an attempt to capture a beautiful Hindu queen. Critics say the film “disrespects the sentiments” of the Rajput caste. And despite historians pointing out that the queen portrayed in the film is a fictional character, Rajput groups have been using their political capital to block the film with much success.

      The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is backing the efforts of Rajput groups, like the Karni Sena, who’ve been holding protests in several states across India. The group is also accused of vandalising cinemas this week and earlier this year reportedly stormed the set of the film and assaulted the director.

    • Bollywood, censorship and the fascism unfolding in Modi’s India
    • I got DMCA takedown notice for sharing an interview of Richard Stallman
    • Press freedom is under attack like never before. Reinforcements are needed

      We could reasonably have expected the digital revolution to have ushered in the heyday of media freedom. The miniaturisation of technology and spread of mobile connectivity have massively increased our ability to share, interact with, and access information.

      However, this has been matched by censorship in the name of national security and countering extremism, demands for protection against offensive speech and misinformation, as well as unprecedented surveillance and collection of our data. A new report by Article 19 maps this trend, showing that media freedom is at its lowest level since 2006, with a particular increase in the government censorship of those who expose corruption and abuse.

      We at Article 19 document the relentless toll of assaults against journalists, media workers and social media commentators. And besides state agents, we have seen an increase in new perpetrators of violations on media freedom, including organised crime, religious militant groups, and even corporations and economics groups. In the worst cases, state censorship operates through one of these groups or they operate with state acquiescence.

      Violence and censorship remain a threat in democratic and authoritarian states. But it is often those with nascent democratic or judicial structures where critical opinions are persecuted by illegitimate and often illegal means. Although the causes vary according to country, the combination of weak institutions and limited legal frameworks, as well as a lack of both political will and appreciation for diversity and pluralism, produce hostile environments for press freedom.

    • U.S. House internet censorship bill is just like the Senate bill, except worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

    • Suddenly, I’m a ‘Russian Agent’!

      For a number of years now, I have been periodically interviewed as a source or a commentator on news programs and as an occasional panel participant on RT TV, the Russian government-funded English-language television station. For the past year, I’ve been paid a small amount for my work.

      Effective Monday, November 13, something changed, though. RT suddenly became a“registered foreign agent.” The Russian government-funded news service, which has its headquarters in Washington, with bureaus in several other US cities, filed the required papers under protest — the only foreign news service operating here that is required to do so — and said it intends to sue. Russia is also retaliating and will be requiring some US news organizations operating in Russia, including Voice of America, to similarly register as foreign agents.

      This means that as of two weeks ago, I have been working, at least on a minimal basis of perhaps one short 5-10-minute interview per week, for a “foreign agent.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • #BlackFriday Announcement from Privacy Lab

      More than 75% of the 300+ apps analyzed by Exodus contain the signatures of trackers, though this data does not tell the whole story. There is an entire industry based upon these trackers, and apps identified as “clean” today may contain trackers that have not yet been identified. Tracker code may also be added by developers to new versions of apps in the future. The Exodus platform identifies trackers via signatures, like an anti-virus or spyware scanner, and thus can only detect trackers previously identified by researchers at the time of the scan.

    • 75% Android Apps Track Users With 3rd Party Tools, Says Study

      A combined study conducted by a French research organization Exodus Privacy and the Privacy Lab, Yale University concludes that around 3 out of every 4 Android apps track users in some way, using third-party trackers.

    • NSA Surveillance Powers Set for Renewal, But Will Reforms Happen?

      The exact details of the renewal are still up for debate, however, with both the House and the Senate pushing different versions, and several lawmakers are trying to push different reforms.

      Section 702 has been shown to be vulnerable to major abuse. Serious reform, however, is facing a lot of resistance, with pro-surveillance officials saying it would weaken the ability to surveil in general.

      So while some lawmakers are promising they won’t support any renewal without some “meaningful” reforms, anything that seems too meaningful is unlikely to ever get through in the first place.

    • U.S. lawmaker says House intel panel near consensus on NSA spy program

      Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are close to an agreement on how to overhaul a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program and hope to complete legislation soon, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday.

      Representative Adam Schiff said he had proposed a compromise that would let intelligence agencies query a database of information on Americans in national security cases without a warrant, but would require a warrant to use the information in other cases, such as those involving serious violent crime.

      “This would prevent law enforcement from simply using the database as a vehicle to go fishing, but at the same time it would preserve the operational capabilities of the program,” Schiff told reporters.

    • Government Exposes Documents Detailing Sensitive NSA Software, Surveillance Programs

      Ragtime is more than a decade old, but apparently still in use. It was part of the Stellar Wind warrantless surveillance bundle put together by the agency and the Bush administration shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. While Stellar Wind is no longer in use thanks to domestic surveillance concerns (it’s actually just been offshored to dodge FISA obligations), Ragtime appears to still be running, although there’s little publicly-available information discussing its use in surveilling American citizens. An undated document leaked by Snowden in 2013 discusses Ragtime collection in the context of thwarting Congressional oversight.

      What is known is Ragtime’s super-secret status. It’s a “need to know” program that only certain analysts can access. Collections from this program are considered so sensitive they aren’t shared with foreign allies, with the exception of the Ragtime-C variant, which allows UK intelligence agency access.

    • NSA’s Ragtime surveillance program targets US citizens – documents

      A newly discovered document has revealed seven hidden variants of the National Security Agency’s Ragtime program. Though Ragtime is intended for NSA’s foreign surveillance, one of the components apparently targets Americans.

      Ragtime is a NSA surveillance program that collects the contents of private communications of foreign nationals, including emails and text messages. A newly revealed component of the program, called US-P, seems to be aimed at American citizens.

      The term ‘USP’ (US Persons) is used in intelligence circles to refer to American citizens. A document dated November 2011, seen by both ZDNet and UpGuard, revealed the existence of US-P and six other previously unknown Ragtime components. In addition to Ragtime US-P, the newly revealed variants are called Ragtime-BQ, F, N, PQ, S, and T, according to ZDNet.

    • NSA leak exposes top secret ‘Red Disk’ data on public AWS server

      ANOTHER NSA LEAK has seen the contents of a hard drive with highly sensitive data get posted online, shedding light on a US Army intelligence project.

      Chris Vickery, director of cybersecurity research firm UpGuard, found a virtual image of the hard disk left on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server.

    • 100GB of secret NSA data found on unsecured AWS S3 bucket
    • NSA breach spills over 100GB of top secret data
    • Cybersecurity company finds classified NSA, Army data online
    • How to Debug Your Content Blocker for Privacy Protection

      Millions of users are trying to protect their privacy from commercial tracking online, be it through their choice of browser, installation of ad and tracker blocking extensions, or use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This guide focuses on how to correctly configure the blocking extension in your browser to ensure that it’s giving you the privacy you expect. We believe that tools work best when you don’t have to go under the hood. While there is software which meets that criteria (and several are listed in the final section of the guide), the most popular ad blockers do not protect privacy by default and must be reconfigured. We’ll show you how.

    • Panopticlick 3.0

      Today we’re launching a new version of Panopticlick, an EFF site which audits your browser privacy protection.

    • Supreme Court Must Understand That Cell Phones Aren’t Voluntary

      Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Carpenter v. United States, a major Fourth Amendment case that questions whether the police can access your phone’s location data without a warrant. The government argues that it should always be entitled to that information, no questions asked, because the 95 percent of American adults who own cell phones choose to give up that information “voluntarily.” Because cell phones transmit that data automatically, however, cell phone users have no choice in revealing their location. Therefore, the only action that could be “voluntary” is owning or using a cell phone.

      The problem is that cell phones are no longer meaningfully voluntary in modern society. They have become central to society’s basic functions, such as employment, public safety, and government services. The cell phone is a revolutionary technology, but its real value comes not from its technical capabilities, but from its near-universal adoption.

    • Facebook to demand “clear photo of your face”
    • Facebook’s New Captcha Test: ‘Upload A Clear Photo of Your Face’

      The company is using a new kind of captcha to verify whether a user is a real person. According to a screenshot of the identity test shared on Twitter on Tuesday and verified by Facebook, the prompt says: “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face. We’ll check it and then permanently delete it from our servers.”

    • Uber hired ex-CIA agents to infiltrate rival, former employee alleges

      In the letter written by his lawyer, Jacobs said Uber created a secret unit in order to obtain trade secrets from its rivals, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Under questioning, Jacobs then claimed Uber hired multiple contractors who “employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing company infiltrate its rivals’ computers.”

    • Uber used ex-CIA agents to steal trade secrets, fired manager says. Feds are investigating

      Uber’s espionage team also hired contractors who employed former CIA agents to help with its surveillance, Jacobs said.

    • Judge says Uber ‘withheld evidence’ as new bombshell allegations emerge in Alphabet trial

      He reportedly made other bombshell allegations in the letter, including that employees at Uber were trained to “impede” ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.

    • The Latest: Uber accused of using ex-CIA agents as spies

      Under questioning, Richard Jacobs, Uber’s manager of global intelligence, said that Uber hired several contractors that employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing service infiltrate its rivals’ computers. Jacobs said the surveillance occurred overseas.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?
    • Uber Faces Federal Probe for Corporate Espionage

      The probe under way at the U.S. Justice Department centers on a 37-page letter that described allegations made by Richard Jacobs, Uber’s former manager of global intelligence. Jacobs had the letter sent in May to an Uber lawyer. The letter contended that Jacobs had been wrongfully demoted and then fired for trying to stop the company’s alleged misconduct.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Hate Crime Training for Police Is Often Inadequate, Sometimes Nonexistent

      To become a police officer in the U.S., one almost always has to enroll in an academy for some basic training. The typical academy session lasts 25 weeks, but state governments — which oversee police academies for local and state law enforcement officers — have wide latitude when it comes to choosing the subjects that will be taught in the classrooms.

      How to properly identify and investigate hate crimes does not seem terribly high on the list of priorities, according to a ProPublica review.

      Only 12 states, for example, have statutes requiring that academies provide instruction on hate crimes.

    • Growing Up and Growing Old in Prison

      In 2006, Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a 43-year-old man who had picked her up for sex. At the time of the crime, she was 16 years old.

      Cyntoia is now in her 20s, and her appeal is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Last week, after a local Fox 17 news report on her case, celebrities like Rihanna took to social media to condemn the sentence and call for her release. The attention to this case is understandable and justified. Cyntoia had run away from home and was living with a pimp who had raped and abused her. The legal team handling Cyntoia’s appeal says she suffers from an alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, a type of fetal alcohol syndrome that impairs brain development and that more recent testing found her to have the functioning level of a 13 or 14-year-old.

    • For People of Color in Jacksonville, Florida, Walking Can Be a Crime

      Black pedestrians face unacceptable discrimination by law enforcement in the city of Jacksonville.

      Walking is a lot of things. It’s great exercise. It’s a cost-free mode of transportation. But for Black people in Jacksonville, Florida, evidence suggests that it’s leading to discriminatory encounters with police.

      Black pedestrians in Jacksonville are ticketed a stunning three times as often for pedestrian violations, like jaywalking, as white pedestrians, according to ProPublica and The Florida Times-Union. In a recently published exposé, the outlets examined 2,200 tickets issued in Jacksonville between 2012 and 2016. They found that although representing only 29 percent of the city’s population, Black people received a whopping 55 percent of all pedestrian tickets. Disproportionate enforcement also occurred for lesser known offenses. For instance, 68 percent of people who received tickets for “failing to cross the road at a right angle or the shortest route” were Black.

      In Jacksonville, crossing the street on a yellow light or walking on the street where there is no sidewalk can result in getting a ticket with a $65 price tag. If you are poor or working but struggling to make ends meet, this is an especially hard pill to swallow. Failure to pay may impact your credit score or possibly result in suspension of your driver’s license.

    • Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding Audiences by Race

      Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system.

      “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus.

      ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws.

      Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it’s illegal to “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

    • Nationalism, or how to drown out what is important

      In recent months, our ability to forget has become increasingly apparent. In our blind, deaf and dumb First World – in Spain, for instance -, there have been cries against oppression and struggles for freedom. Many have taken to the streets to fight for civil and political rights and analysts have defended the right to vote and the rule of Law.

      The headiness of the fight has resulted in shows of intolerance, police overreaction and injuries – all in the name of freedom, independence or the constitutional order.

      But what if we contextualized First World struggles? What if we reminded ourselves of where we are and what is happening elsewhere?

    • Community Groups Doubling Down on Defending Digital Rights

      After the 2016 U.S. election, the prospects for digital rights under the incoming administration seemed particularly grim. A silver lining in this dark cloud has been the concerted efforts we’ve seen by groups working to defend digital rights at the local level. Over the past year, a growing network of grassroots groups, the Electronic Frontier Alliance, has taken substantial steps forward in protecting online civil liberties in dozens of communities across the U.S.

      Our preliminary concerns about the Trump administration’s attacks on digital rights unfortunately proved valid.

      President Trump inherited a surveillance apparatus that threatened privacy in a number of ways, from warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications to monitoring the social media accounts of immigrants, including naturalized U.S. citizens. The administration’s escalating attacks on other digital rights came quickly, with various departments targeting access to knowledge by removing publicly funded research from the web and issuing unconstitutional subpoenas to web hosts seeking the identities of visitors to websites used to coordinate protests of the Trump administration. Less than year into the new administration, free expression is under threat in Congress in the form of bills like SESTA that would likely push marginalized voices offline.

    • Farmworkers Say “Us Too,” Demanding Freedom From Sexual Violence

      Ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) hit midtown Manhattan on Monday to face down the suits with chants of “Exploitation has got to go!” CIW was there to demand humane working conditions on their farms.

      Peppered with brass-band musicians and street puppets, the protesters rallied at the New York, N.Y. offices of the fast food giant Wendy’s.

      CIW members hoisted tomato and bucket-shaped picket signs with slogans like “freedom from sexual violence” and “Justicia” to face off against Wendy’s cheery, red pigtails. They demanded fair wages and freedom from violence and exploitation.

    • Century of the National Security State: A New Subversives List?

      A recent article by two Georgetown University civil-liberties attorneys, Yael Bromberg and Eirik Cheverud, “Anti-Trump protesters risk 60 years in jail. Is dissent a crime?,” warns that the Trump Justice Department may be establishing a 21st century “subversives” list. The trial of the first six defendants has just started in Washington, DC.

      The authors’ note that in the wake of Pres. Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, federal prosecutors brought charges against over 200 protestors that included felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot and five property-damage crimes. The attorneys remind readers, “Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.”

    • Chicago Considers Another Dumb ‘Texting And Walking’ Law To Raise Revenue

      Since the advent of the smartphone, it seems that every few years or so, one government entity or another suddenly has the brilliant idea that its constituency ought to have fines levied on them for “distracted walking.” This catchall term has a much more specific meaning with in the laws in question: walking and using a phone at the same time. While this nonsense began mostly in foreign countries, there a few states in America that have some flavor of this kind of law on the books.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal

      We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won’t charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes.

      Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming that we got the story wrong. But a further examination of how Comcast’s net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another interesting tidbit—Comcast deleted a “no paid prioritization” pledge from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

      Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: “Comcast doesn’t prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes.”

    • Email Is Broken. Can Anyone Fix It?

      You should root for email to work, because it’s the only open, free, universal communications tool we have left. And, like it or not, you’re stuck with it.

    • The Internet is Living on Borrowed Time

      The Internet, as we know it now, is not likely to exist for much longer. Let me walk you through why I know that.

    • FCC’s Pai, Addressing Net Neutrality Rules, Calls Twitter Biased
    • Killing net neutrality is a death blow for innovation

      On Cyber Monday, more than 200 internet companies and businesses, including Twitter, Reddit, Airbnb and Tumblr sent a letter to the FCC, imploring them to keep net neutrality intact. It stated, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.” This followed Pai’s release of a plan to kill the Obama era rules if he gets the support of the rest of the commission in a vote that is scheduled for December 14.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blasted everyone from Twitter to Cher for opposing his efforts to repeal net neutrality rules
    • Indian telecom regulator backs net neutrality with recommendations

      The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it was not in favor of any “discriminatory treatment” with data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

    • FCC chief slams ‘Hollywood celebrities’ who oppose net neutrality rollback
    • As FCC Contemplates Repealing Net Neutrality Protections, Indian Telecom Regulator Reaffirms Support for Principles of Non-Discrimination

      Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. Even as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing a plan to end net neutrality protections in the U.S., India’s telecom regulator has called for strengthening the principle of non-discriminatory access to the Internet.

      This week the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended amending all existing ISP licenses in India to explicitly prohibit discriminatory traffic management practices. TRAI’s recommendations on licensing issues are not binding. While TRAI has the power to frame regulations on issues such as pricing, QoS, and interconnection, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has final authority on matters related to granting or modification of licences in India. But if TRAI’s recommendations are accepted by the DoT, ISPs in India will be explicitly prohibited from and will be penalised for blocking, throttling, slowing down, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content on their networks. Having rules in place that restrict ISPs and telecom providers’ ability to control access to content via their networks is important for a free and open Internet. Such rules prevent ISPs from degrading the quality of service or blocking access to apps to earn revenue or to limit competition. The FCC’s Open Order 2015 had also banned throttling, blocking and paid prioritization in the provision of broadband Internet access service. The FCC’s new proposal issued last week would eliminate these bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement.

    • Mark Cuban Still Has Absolutely No Idea How Net Neutrality Works

      To be very clear, there are numerous subjects Mark Cuban has a very solid understanding of, ranging from his support of patent reform and the benefits of improving antiquated film release windows to highlighting the SEC’s disdain for the 14th and 4th Amendments during his fight over insider trading allegations. But when it comes to net neutrality, modern telecom competition, and the problems caused by letting unchecked duopolists like Comcast run amok, Cuban has pretty consistently made it abundantly clear he has absolutely no earthly idea what he’s talking about.

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Activision Considering An Opposition To Trademark For Dog-Curbing Company ‘Call Of Doodee’

        There’s a line in Ian Fleming’s opus Goldfinger that goes: “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” It appears that as far as strange trademark attacks issued from entertainment properties upon canine-related services are concerned, we’ve officially reached the coincidence stage. You will recall that we were just discussing an odd trademark opposition filed from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan against a dog-walking service calling itself Woof-Tang Clan. On the heels of that, we learn that Activision is mulling an opposition on a trademark application for a dog-poop removal service calling itself Call of DooDee.

    • Copyrights
      • Congress Shouldn’t Turn the Copyright Office Into A Copyright Court

        While most people are focused on net neutrality, surveillance, and tax reform, a few legislators are quietly mulling over a different problem: copyright reform.

        Five years ago, Representative Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, launched a series of hearings and studies that he said would lead to comprehensive copyright reform. EFF and many others testified on the merits and problems in virtually every facet of copyright law, and we all waited expectantly for the “Next Great Copyright Act.” For better or worse, that dramatic reform never happened. Instead, we got the CASE Act, a bill to create a small claims process for copyright. The impetus behind this bill comes largely from photographers and other visual artists, who want a way to bring small-value copyright claims with lower expenses. They are legitimately concerned that the cost of litigation puts strong copyright protection out of reach for many artists.

        But the CASE Act is not the right solution. First, it would create a new quasi-court within the Copyright Office. Aside from the constitutional questions that raises, the Copyright Office is not known for its neutrality on copyright issues. Second, the powers given to this new tribunal would invite gamesmanship and abuse. Third, it would magnify the existing problem of copyright’s unpredictable civil penalties. Finally, it would put this new tribunal in charge of punishing DMCA abuse, but sharply limit the punishment available, undermining what little deterrent effect still exists in the statute.

        Let’s break it down.

      • NAFTA’s Digital Trade Chapter Could Be Finalized Next Month

        The fifth round of negotiations over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wound up last week in Mexico. Following conclusion of the round, Mexican Trade Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he hoped that the next round, to be held in Washington, DC in the week of 11 December, could see sufficient progress made that the agreement’s Digital Trade chapter could be closed… all before the public has seen a single word of it.

        The history of such predictions leads us to suspect that this may be an optimistic timeline, but the fact that the Minister made it at all does go to confirm that the Digital Trade chapter is seen as being uncontroversial in the negotiations. But it isn’t unimportant. The provisions likely to be found in this chapter include some topics that are critical to the digital economy.

      • Torrent Site Blocking Endangers Freedom of Expression, ISP Warns

        Website blockades are spreading throughout Europe, where they’ve become a common tool for copyright holders to target piracy. This is also the case in Lithuania, where a court has ordered ISPs to prevent subscribers from accessing the hugely popular BitTorrent tracker Linkomanija. The affected ISPs are likely to appeal the case as it could restrict freedom of expression and speech.

      • The Pirate Bay Has Trouble Keeping Afloat

        For many people The Pirate Bay has been hard to reach over the past few days, causing concern among some BitTorrent users. The outages are likely caused by technical issues, which will be resolved in the near future. Meanwhile, some proxies and the Tor domain are still working fine.

IAM Celebrates (With the Patent Cartel) a System of Unjust Monopolisation of Industry Standards Through Unethical Patent Thickets

Thursday 30th of November 2017 12:55:43 AM

Many of these are software patents

Summary: Once again, quite frankly as usual, lobbying by large corporations pays off and companies that are not multi-billion dollar entities will suffer for they cannot participate in the market (anticompetitive patent thickets)

THE policy regarding patents in China has made Asia increasingly friendly to patent trolls. Korean and Japanese companies, for example, are being dragged into Chinese courts (much of their production was outsourced to factories in mainland China).

Days ago we saw IAM saying that “NPEs [patent trolls] armed with former [Chinese] Huawei and [European patent troll] Sisvel patents attack [Korean] Samsung in China, in possible privateering campaigns”. Well, “privateering” is putting it far too politely. The word they’re looking for is trolling. The patent arsenal from Europe now travels to China, the most fertile ground for patent trolls, in order to attack Samsung, one of the world’s biggest technology companies. “An article published in China,” IAM writes, “has turned up two previously unreported patent infringement suits against Samsung in the country’s courts, both filed this year. In one case, an apparent Chinese NPE is asserting a patent formerly owned by Huawei against the South Korean company. In the other, a Texas NPE is suing Samsung with a former Sisvel patent. Taken together, the cases indicate that there may be much more NPE activity – foreign and domestic – than meets the eye in China.”

Further down SIPO is mentioned. To quote: “Li further reports that Samsung challenged both patents before SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board (PRB), which evidently upheld the Dunjun patent, while invalidating the Dual Sim patent. Both decisions can, of course, be appealed.”

What we are seeing here is actualisation of our predictions. Does China want to be known for patent trolls or for manufacturing (or both)?

Meanwhile, the Japanese government, according to this IAM blog post, recognises the problem with SEPs (standard-essential patents), not just with trolls. One should refrain from using the terms FRAND or SEP. They basically masquerade or conceal an anticompetitive injustice that’s hinged on patents. Here is what IAM wrote:

The ADR scheme was also described by the government as a “licensing award system for SEPs”. In short, it proposed that when two parties could not agree on an SEP licence agreement, the prospective licensee would be able to request mediation by the JPO, which would determine a FRAND royalty rate in a mandatory process, “with due care of not unfairly haring the interests of the patent holders”. Major global rights owners raised numerous objections, branding it as a form of compulsory licensing.

This has become a hot topic because companies like Qualcomm, which IAM again glorified a few days ago, want to create industry standards everyone must pay Qualcomm to merely implement. There are many software patents in the mix, even though such patents are no longer potent anywhere but China.

As Benjamin Henrion stated earlier today: “After the glyphosate, another vistory of (patent) lobbyists is to remove the “licence for all” from the Commission FRAND paper, and to insult Open Source licensing…”

The context to all this was a stream of IAM tweets that said: “Commission Communication on SEP licensing has now been published. On a first, skim, read it looks like SEP owners have got most of what they could have reasonably hoped for [] There doesn’t seem to be any prescriptions about what kind of licensing approach should be followed – ie no mention of the “license for all” regime that implementers were calling for. This is crucial. Looks like SEP owners have got their way. [] If detailed reading of the SEP licensing Communication confirms the initial impression, there has bene a big turnaround in the Commisison [sic] over th elast two weeks. SEP owners will be celebrating.”

IAM’s chief, Joff Wild, later wrote this blog post about it (updated throughout the evening). It is very disappointing that the European Commission seems to be in bed with the patent cartel/thickets, basically the likes of Qualcomm which it’s supposed to investigate. To quote Wild:

The European Commission’s long-awaited Communication on the licensing of standards essential patents was finally published this morning and, on an initial read, it looks like SEP owners have a fair amount to be pleased about – especially given how things were looking a couple of weeks back, when it seemed as if extensive lobbying from the implementer side was about to bear fruit. A subsequent delay in agreeing the final text of the Communication provided a hint that implementers might not get all they were after and today’s publication seemingly confirms that.

[...]

My guess is that SEP owners are going to be feeling a great deal of relief today. The Commission has acknowledged that while the rapid and efficient diffusion of technology at the lowest cost possible is vital, those who do the innovating need to be incentivised to carry on – and that means they have to feel they will receive adequate reward for the investments they make.

Is this any worse than the Commission turning a blind eye to EPO abuses?

Writing behind a paywall IP Watch has covered this as well (under the headline “European Commission Announces Guidance On Copyright Enforcement, SEP Licensing”).

To quote:

The European Commission today announced plans to ratchet up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and to introduce more clarity in licensing standard-essential patents (SEPs). The first involves guidance on the 2004 EU directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED); the second recommendations for making the relationship between patent owners and technology users more “balanced and efficient.”

The likes of Qualcomm certainly got their way here; interesting timing given the immense scrutiny this company comes under. Earlier today we learned that Apple has just countersued Qualcomm for patent infringement [1, 2, 3], further escalating a long battle against the SEP cartel set up by Qualcomn. It is very disappointing to see that in addition to the constant deception from sites like IAM we have public officials who play along with patent cartels and protectionism. They really ought to know better. Corporate lobbyists got their way again. IAM gave them a platform (we covered that).

PTAB Will Survive the Supreme Court, Admit Even Foes of PTAB Based on This Week’s Hearings

Thursday 30th of November 2017 12:21:07 AM

The “swamp” is sinking again

Summary: Having found themselves in quicksand, the few people who care enough to try to undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), refuse to let go and are going under

THE Supreme Court case which we have dealt with the most recently is Oil States. We write about it, on average, about once a day. It’s an important case.

As one PTAB foe put it today (with direct link to the original PDF), the annual report says PTAB should “remain vigilant in ensuring fair and transparent processes and proceedings in order to render wellgrounded decisions.”

So they expect it to remain.

Here is the part that touches on software patents (or abstract patents more generally):

Regarding Section 101: the USPTO should (a) continue to update the stakeholder community and examiner corps on recent jurisprudence and where appropriate, continue to issue memoranda that describes the relevant court decision; (b) finalize the MPEP updates in Section 2106 directed to “Patent Eligible Subject Matter,” so the stakeholder community has one central repository on the USPTO’s website to receive the latest updates; and (c) should continue stakeholder outreach programs and workshops on Section 101 developments due to the critical nature of this area.

The subject of software patents and the USPTO will be covered separately later this week. As things stand, patent quality in the USPTO is rising and lawsuits over software patents aren’t being filed every single day like they used to. “Thanks to PTAB,” says this new tweet, “companies no longer have to pay ransom to make lawsuits based on questionable patent claims go away.” This links to an article from the New York Times. It’s a week old.

At the start of the week we observed the views of the new Justice, Mr. Gorsuch (Trump nominee and appointee). As Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer‏ put it a short time ago: “Are we surprised that the new judge takes a Pro-patent position?”

Not surprising to us. At all. But it could be worse. We thought he could be a lot more blatant about it; he had been more or less a blank slate in the domain/area of patents.

Tim B. Lee, who has covered software patents for many years, reports from a position closer to the action. He wrote that the “Supreme Court seems reluctant to blow up a key weapon against patent trolls” and here are his opening words:

In Supreme Court oral arguments on Monday, justices seemed skeptical of arguments that a patent office process for challenging patents runs afoul of the Constitution.

The issue matters because the challenged process—which was created by the 2011 America Invents Act—has emerged as a key weapon against patent trolls wielding low-quality patents. Overall, defending a patent lawsuit can easily cost millions of dollars. By contrast, the new process, known as inter partes review, allows a patent to be invalidated for a sum in the low six figures.

Lee later added: “I will be very surprised if the Supreme Court pulls the trigger here, because ruling for Oil States would have sweeping consequences. [] If they say “court-like” administrative procedures are unconstitutional, they’re going to face an avalanche of litigation arguing that procedures in other areas of law are too court-like. [] If they straight up say that patents are private property, it could substantially strengthen patent rights across the board, the opposite of the recent trend by the Supreme Court.”

Patents are certainly not property; it’s an old lie that’s being pasted into the media by the patent microcosm.

Based on the above, PTAB will be fine. Moreover, based on PTAB bashers, the Supreme Court has just rejected cases with a potential to broaden patent scope. To quote:

The Supreme Court has denied Openet’s petition for writ of certiorari in Openet v. Amdocs. The petition asked “whether the Federal Circuit erred by looking beyond the claims to the patent specification to assess patent eligibility?” The court also denied certiorari in the pro se case of Poniatowski v. Matal.

Better this way.

Want to see something funny? Watch IAM’s one-sided coverage of the case.

Some father and his kids, who barely know what patents are, are not really staging a ‘protest’ but engaging in a publicity stunt. There are a few tweets about it (with photos). Basically, daddy has a bunk patent which PTAB is probably going to invalidate, so the kids will hold a sign daddy made with a MAGA-inspired slogan. Marvelous! Parents who exploit their kids for patent propaganda might seem about as ‘professional’ as “US Inventor” — basically a cowboy hat-wearing, MAGA-inspired lunatic from Watchtroll, whom the media mistakes for a group. His infamous, long-planned ‘protest’ attracted less than a dozen people.

The above was barely a protest, except in IAM’s mind. Here is how IAM put it:

Even though patent cases have become a regular feature of the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years, for the IP community there was an extra buzz about the place yesterday as the justices heard two disputes concerning inter partes review (IPR).

For starters, around 20 protesters from the small inventor community, who remain bitterly opposed to IPRs, were gathered on the courthouse steps brandishing signs such as “the PTAB killed my start-up”. The protest may have been relatively small and well behaved, but its impact could be heard inside the court’s press room where seasoned Supreme Court reporters got perhaps their first glimpse at just how deep feelings run on this issue. “Protesters? For a patent case!” one of them muttered.

Then inside the courtroom there was a smattering of the great and the good from the IP stakeholder community, including USPTO acting head Joe Matal, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) David Ruschke and his number two Scott Boalick, several aides who helped author the America Invents Act (AIA), leaders from the various IP law associations and numerous members of the patent bar from private practice.

“Around 20 protesters,” says IAM. That’s generous. Based on the photos, it’s not even that. At the end, however, IAM cares enough to admit that this case is dead in the water. PTAB will endure and IPRs shall overcome!

EPO Spreads Two Lies Today, One About Patent ‘Production’ and Another About ‘Quality’

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 11:42:04 PM

Measuring what’s not immeasurable using false yardsticks

Summary: Today’s face-saving lies from the EPO focus on the very serious scandals that worry stakeholders while at the same time distracting from ongoing attacks on EPO staff and basic rights

THE EPO tries hard to distract from the latest scandals. Today it was recycling an old EU-IPO ‘study’, then returned to its daily repetition of the pro-UPC nonsensical ‘study’ and daily repetition of the “SME” thing. None of this is new. It’s weeks old.

Also today, the EPO issued two “news” items, which is unusual (sometimes it goes on for a month with not even one). Both regurgitate familiar propaganda. The first notes that the EPO has been granting lots of crappy patents (too fast, too leniently, which necessarily means decline in patent quality). The global patent bubble grows bigger, but the EPO is a large contributor to this bubble, having experienced ‘growth’ four times higher than the IP5 average (top five patent offices). When it comes to patents, quality should matter, not quantity, but watch what the EPO wrote: (warning: epo.org link)

To cope with increasing demand, the EPO has put in place a series of quality [sic] and efficiency measures, which in 2016 led to an 8.5% rise in products (completed searches, substantive examinations and oppositions), and 40% more patents granted.

Terrible. Nothing to be proud of. Never mind the fact that they’re rapidly running out of ‘stock’. They have been granting, among other things, patents on algorithms and patents on life (these later turned out to be null and void). This leads us to the second “news” item, which is more of the old CPVO spin (CPVO is not what many people assume it to be). Read the “quality” nonsense further down (including the heading which precedes it). To quote the “news”: (warning: epo.org link)

Martin Ekvad, CPVO President, emphasised the importance of formalising cooperation in an agreement concluded last year between the EPO and CPVO…

[...]

At the EPO less than one in three patent applications in biotechnology becomes a European patent, while the overall grant rate in all fields of technology is around 48%.

That says almost nothing and fails to account for what happened earlier this year. Many patents on life/organisms were instantaneously invalidated. How about that? Why were these granted in the first place? The sentence above, along with that paragraph, is constructed to help Battistelli lie about patent quality. Who does he need to lie to? Gullible people like Dr. Ernst, who continues to publicly deny the issue (even when directly challenged by concerned users of the patent system).

Ernst has done far too little to earn trust from SUEPO (judging by the tone of the site) and every comment about him in Kluwer Patent Blog has been negative. Here are the latest two. They’re about the expectation that he will go along with Battistelli and again punish all the workers:

dear you two again : the document is NOT OFF THE TABLE at all.

DG 4 submits it for information in December with changes : from 100% contracts to (only) 40 % (which will put the entire structure under even more production pressure than it is now) and, cherry on the cake, now they introduce the option to transform the contract into a permanent one after FIFTEEN YEARS (…or not).

This document will be submitted for decision in March 2018.

so please stop doing as if it was off the table since this new proposal is equally bad as the previous one, totally non adapted to a stable international organisation like the EPO, the aim of which being to serve the PUBLIC on the long run and certainly not to produce cash surplus for its Member States (surplus which nowadays fall in their (deficit) national budgets) this at the expenses of the health of staff hundreds of employees who go burned-out, in-treatments, in depressions, or even commit suicide when they cannot cope any more (6 non-investigated suicides over the past 5 years, a 7th miraculously avoided for 3 months).

I want to make one thing clear: the documents on 5 years contracts for EPO staff should end up in the bin. I have never had a different opinion on it.

The new proposal is even more ludicrous. Even if after 15 years there is a possibility to get a permanent job, which person sound in its mind would leave its national security and social protections systems to hire at the EPO? Such a stupid idea can only germ in the minds of people who are playing manager, but do not really know what it means to manage in the interest of the body they rule. It makes me sad to see that a reputable office like the EPO is run by such people.

The net result will be more younger people at the EPO, as I do not know anybody having a stable job for a few years leaving this in order to hire at the EPO. There will be also more Germans in Munich and more Dutch in The Hague, trends which are already existing today.

Here Mr Ernst has to resist the fools running the office by not putting such a proposal on the agenda of the AC.

If a measure with such a long term effect is decided three months before a new president comes, then it shows the esteem shown to his successor by the present holder of the function. As another commenter said it makes you want to puke.

Several days ago a reader told us that the EPO had adopted a notorious French model which makes workers very stressed (sometimes/often suicidal) and as of today there’s this ruling from the French Supreme Court about public mockery of patent infringers. It’s not very new, but this was covered some hours ago by IP Kat, which said:

The French Supreme Court last month affirmed that a patentee is free to publish a decision of patent infringement on their website. In doing so, the patentee neither tarnishes the name of the defendant nor breaches any other principle of tortious liability towards the defendant.

This is a matter of free speech; we recently covered the matter in relation to the EFF getting sued repeatedly for mocking patents. At the EPO workers get in a lot of trouble if they say that patent quality is declining. We covered examples of such incidents earlier this year.

Links 29/11/2017: Lakka 2.1, Huge Apple Flaw

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 01:29:24 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 10 open source technology trends for 2018

    Technology is always evolving. New developments, such as OpenStack, Progressive Web Apps, Rust, R, the cognitive cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and more are putting our usual paradigms on the back burner. Here is a rundown of the top open source trends expected to soar in popularity in 2018.

  • Open Source Software Developers Find A Home At Gitcoin

    Open source software is often the ugly stepchild of technology development. Because developers are largely donating their time and efforts, progress lags on building better versions of apps, blockchains and other software. That stifles progress, and leaves advancement in the hands of for-profit ventures, many of them without the public’s best interests at heart.

  • Open source grows up, needs to learn to play with others

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are expanding their presence within service provider environments, emerging as a critical solutions set for operators looking to drive agility and cost efficiency in their infrastructure through automation and digitalisation. That role will only increase with technologies like containers, MEC and 5G come online to drive up demands on the network and deliver new service architectures and capabilities. But even as OpenStack matures inside service provider environments, it must now learn to play with others that form the greater service provider ecosystem, including other open source communities like ONAP and ETSI NFVI, says Ericsson’s Susan James.

  • Will Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?

    To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of yesteryear, which attempted to gain dominion over the emerging online world by pushing exclusive use of its Windows OS and for-pay Internet Explorer browser.

    “Microsoft was wrong for a long time,” says Ault, who is Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Group at Purdue University. “They wanted to own the internet. Now they’re a huge open-source shop” — joining what Ault calls the “business model of success” found today at Android, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

    Agricultural technology needs a similar open-source awakening, Ault says. The current state of ag data, he says frankly, “stinks.” Most farmers don’t share their data, and often justify their stance by noting there’s not much data out there anyway so what does it matter. And because the little data that is out there isn’t used much, a perception lingers that it doesn’t have to be particularly good data.

  • Inocybe aims to take complexity out of open source

    Anyone who’s trying to navigate the telecom waters that are open source these days may appreciate that there are entities out there that want to help.

    Montreal, Canada-based Inocybe is targeting Tier 2 and 3 wired/wireless service providers globally and enterprises to talk open source. The company has been involved with OpenDaylight since the beginning and is one of its top five contributors, and it wants to help entities that don’t have the type of resources the bigger Tier 1 operators have to devote to open-source projects, of which there are many.

  • Events
    • From 0 to Kubernetes

      Although you hear a lot about containers and Kubernetes these days, there’s a lot of mystery around them. In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “From 0 to Kubernetes,” Amy Chen clears up the confusion.

      Amy, a software engineer at Rancher Labs, describes containers as baby computers living inside another computer that are suffering an “existential crisis” as they try to figure out their place in the world. Kubernetes is the way all those baby computers are organized.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s WebRender Making Good Progress, Can Be Tested On Firefox Nightly

        Mozilla engineers aren’t letting up after their Quantum work in Firefox 57 that made the browser much faster. Next they have been improving WebRender and can be tested easily with Firefox Nightly.

        WebRender as a reminder is Mozilla’s GPU-based renderer used currently within the Servo engine and has also been fitted into Firefox with Gecko. Those unfamiliar with WebRender can learn more about its architecture on their GitHub Wiki and this Mozilla Hacks blog post from last month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice Is Now Available on Flathub, the Flatpak App Store

      Its arrival allows anyone running a modern Linux distribution to install the latest stable release of LibreOffice in a click or two, without having to hunt down a PPA, tussle with tarballs or wait for a distro provider to package it up.

      A LibreOffice Flatpak has been available for users to download and install since August of last year and the LibreOffice 5.2 release.

      What’s “new” here is the distribution method. Rather than release updates through their own dedicated server The Document Foundation has opted to use Flathub.

    • Dialog Tunnelling

      I’m simply going to talk about what I’ve been currently working on in Collabora Online or LibreOffice Online, as part of my job at Collabora.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Western Digital To Begin Shipping Devices Using RISC-V

        RISC-V has a big new hardware backer… Western Digital.

        Western Digital just announced at the RISC-V Workshop conference that they will be getting behind RISC-V for the next generation of big data and fast data. They plan to switch over “one billion cores per year to RISC-V.” By the time their transition is complete, they anticipate to be shipping two billion RISC-V cores per year.

      • SiFive and Microsemi Expand Relationship with Strategic Roadmap Alignment and a Linux-Capable, RISC-V Development Board

        SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, and Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, at the 7th RISC-V Workshop today announced the companies have formed a strategic relationship to meet the growing interest and demand in the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The companies have previously collaborated to provide RISC-V soft CPU cores for Microsemi’s PolarFire® FPGAs, IGLOO™2 FPGAs, SmartFusion™2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGAs and RTG4™ FPGAs, currently available as part of the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem.

  • Programming/Development
    • 5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

      DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Judge rules against 84-year-old doctor who can’t use a computer

    A New Hampshire state judge has dismissed a case brought by an elderly doctor who recently gave up her medical license following a handful of allegations against her.

    Among other accusations, Dr. Anna Konopka, 84, has refused to use a computer and participate in the state’s new law for an online opioid monitoring program.

    “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger wrote in his Monday order to dismiss the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

      A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl’s ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive-care-level treatment is overused.

      ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.

      We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce their clients’ charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.

    • A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

      Her daughter emerged from surgery with her tongue newly freed and a pair of small gold stars in her ears.

      Only months later did O’Neill discover her cost for this extracurricular work: $1,877.86 for “operating room services” related to the ear piercing — a fee her insurer was unwilling to pay.

      At first, O’Neill assumed the bill was a mistake. Her daughter hadn’t needed her ears pierced, and O’Neill would never have agreed to it if she’d known the cost. She complained in phone calls and in writing.

    • How Patents Have Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

      Over at Quartz, there’s a very interesting article about how patents may have contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. It’s based on a recent paper, May Your Drug Price Be Ever Green, by law professor Robin Feldman (who has done lots of great work about problems in our patent system) and law student Connie Wang.

      For many years, we’ve written about how the pharmaceutical industry has become so overly reliant on patents for their business model, that’s it’s become destructive. We’ve argued that the misaligned incentives of the patent system, especially in pharmaceuticals has so distorted incentives that the big drug companies basically have become focused solely on keeping exclusivity that it has lead to a lot of tragic game playing, where the cost has literally been people’s lives. This went into overdrive a decade or so ago when big pharma realized that many of their biggest sellers had patents expiring, and their pipeline had failed to come up with new drugs to replace the monopoly rents of the old. This resulted in all sorts of gamesmanship designed to allow big pharma to retain monopoly rights even after a drug should have gone off patent. This included pay for delay schemes, whereby big pharma effectively paid off generic makers to keep them out of the market for longer.

    • Expert panel recommends that the WHO move forward on transparency and delinkage

      On Monday, 27 November 2017, the WHO published the recommendations of the overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action on public, health innovation and intellectual property (EB142/14). The full report of the overall programme review (OPR) will be published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. The mandate for this work is provided resolution WHA68.18 (2015) which requested the Director-General to establish a “panel of 18 experts” to conduct an OPR of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. (Source: EB142/14). The composition of this expert panel can be found here: http://www.who.int/medicines/innovation/gspa-review/members-list/en/

      The expert panel provided 33 recommendations which included 17 forward looking”high-priority actions” including on transparency and delinkage.

    • TWN – Proposed WHO Criteria On Medicines In Transit Open Door For Seizures
    • WHO Issues Two Reports Detailing Global Problem Of Substandard And Falsified Medicines

      WHO launched its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in-vitro diagnostic tests in July 2013. This first report is based on data collected during the first 4 years of operation up to 30 June 2017.

      The second report is a study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard or falsified medical products conducted by WHO and the Member State Mechanism

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • British support of Saudi Arabian military should shame us all, says SNP MP

      BRITISH support of the Saudi Arabian military “should appal us all”, according to the SNP’s spokesman for international affairs, amid claims that Scottish regiment has been training a Saudi unit in Yemen.

      The role of the UK armed forces in the conflict has come under scrutiny after a picture was posted on a Scottish battalion Facebook page which appeared to members of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) helping to train Saudi troops.

      The battalion are said to be teaching Irregular Warfare (IW) techniques to officers from the Royal Saudi Land Forces Infantry Institute.

    • US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

      Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friend’s chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

      Cronk’s story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online weren’t calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

    • The Latest: Pentagon believes NK launched ballistic missile

      The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Tuesday that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

      Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

    • Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya

      Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

      The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are being sold in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

      In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Moammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the Qadhafi government’s ability to resist rebel forces. American and European leaders initially claimed the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, but political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Upheaval

      Change is clearly afoot in Saudi Arabia — with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) engineering the dubious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and arresting some of the kingdom’s richest businessmen and rivals within the royal family on charges of corruption — but exactly what it foretells is hard to read.

      The Saudis also are reeling from the apparent defeat of Saudi-backed Sunni jihadists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. So what are the consequences for Saudi Arabia and its regional allies?

      On Nov. 20, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia and resurfaced in France, I spoke with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. (Hariri has since returned to Lebanon where he remains prime minister at least for the time being.)

    • After two months of quiet, North Korea launches another ballistic missile [Updated]

      In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”

      The US Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

      The launch comes as South Korea is preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean officials had hoped that North Korea would forego any further provocations in hopes of an “Olympics of Peace.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • CIA and NSA codes are on the web, and the leakers could be in the agencies

      WikiLeaks published new information thought to be from the CIA in mid-November, releasing source code from a tool known as “Hive,” which allows operators to control malware. The dump, dubbed Vault 8, marked the first time WikiLeaks has released source code for a CIA spying tool.

      In a post on its website, WikiLeaks said: “This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components. Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault 7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.”

      Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released information detailing the extent and sophistication of the CIA’s offensive cyberspace efforts. Despite countless hours searching, investigators still don’t know who is behind the CIA leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

      A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

    • Jonathan Bartley: HS2 is an environmental disaster – we have to stop it in its tracks

      As the co-leader of the Green Party, I’ve seen some pointless environmental destruction in my time. But I’m starting to think that HS2 might be this government’s most outrageous attack on our natural world yet.

      A high speed rail link might sound like a sensible enough idea – or a benign extravagance at worst. But the truth is that it’s environmental vandalism of the highest order, and it has to be stopped.

  • Finance
    • The early history of the 58 Brexit sector analyses

      This post tells the early story, based on public domain sources, of the UK government’s 58 analyses of sectors which will be affected by Brexit.

      There has now been a binding vote by the House of Commons for the government to provide these panalyses to Parliament.

    • What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families

      The tax bill being debated in the Senate this week would affect nearly every American. Numerous analyses have estimated the average impact of the bill on household finances, and advocates on both sides have produced examples of “typical” families that would win or lose under the plan.

      Such analyses, however, tend to gloss over the remarkable diversity of Americans’ financial situations. In truth, there is no “typical” American household. Even families that look similar on the surface can differ in ways that radically alter their situation come tax season.

      The 25,000 dots on the chart above each represent an American household in the broadly defined middle class. The vertical axis represents income; the horizontal axis represents how big a tax cut (or tax increase) each household would get under the bill in 2018, according to a New York Times analysis using the open-source tax-modeling program TaxBrain. (For details on how we did this analysis, including how we defined the middle class, see the note at the end of this article.)

    • The Hidden Hazards of GOP’s Tax-Cut Plan

      The Democrats and the entire progressive community are up in arms about the Republican tax-cut plans, which budget experts say will shower the wealthy with tax breaks while raising taxes on some middle- and working-class families. The plans also could flood the federal debt with another $1.5 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

    • How bitcoins became worth $10,000

      On Tuesday evening, the value of one bitcoin shot above $10,000. It has been a remarkable run for a currency that was only worth about $12 five years ago.

      The run has been particularly remarkable because it’s still not clear what Bitcoin is useful for. During its early years, the cryptocurrency garnered a lot of optimistic talk about how it would disrupt conventional payment networks like MasterCard or Western Union. But almost nine years after Bitcoin was created, there’s little sign of it becoming a mainstream technology. Few people own any bitcoins at all. Even fewer use it as a daily payment technology.

      Yet that hasn’t prevented the cryptocurrency’s value from zooming upward. One factor driving Bitcoin’s growth has been the emergence of a broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin serves as the reserve currency for the Bitcoin economy in much the same way that the dollar serves as the main anchor currency for international trade.

    • CFPB’s ‘NSA-like’ surveillance in limbo with leadership tussle

      The ongoing fight for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have significant effects on the bureau’s mass acquisition of private financial records, according to privacy advocates.

      The CFPB pools vast quantities of data for research purposes, including millions of Americans’ credit card records, which it says are anonymized, commercially available and tracked to help consumers, not to spy on them.

      Critics doubt the adequacy of safeguards, however, and liken the credit data-collection to the National Security Agency’s monitoring of internet and phone records under laws that allow tracking of spies and terrorists.

    • Strip away the layers and Brexit becomes ever more murky

      I clearly remember pondering, on 24 June 2016, why there was not more public and political outrage at the idea of a British government putting itself above the law, and using the royal prerogative to execute the referendum result. I find myself in exactly the same mindset in terms of the potential undermining of our democracy, government and sovereignty by a hostile foreign power – Russia – in what appears to be a secretive coup.

      As a transparency campaigner and a passionate believer in our British values, as well as political and democratic systems, I am worried. People were told that walking out of the EU would liberate us from the clutches of unaccountable bureaucrats and would allow us to “take back control”. Auberon Waugh’s “junta of Belgian ticket inspectors” would be sent packing, the British people would reclaim sovereignty and British courts would decide British law for British people. The fog of bureaucracy would be blown away by the accountability and transparency that we supposedly enjoyed in the days before 1973.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Democrats Rely on Blame-Shifting

      Victories in state-level elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Nov. 7 have buoyed Democratic hopes for an anti-Trump wave among the population that will lead to a big victory in next year’s mid-term elections, and permanently damage President Trump heading towards 2020. Yet there is significant risk in hoping that anti-Trump sentiment will be enough for the Democrats to return to power.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • To Protect our Democracy, We Need to Protect Anonymous Low-Cost Online Political Speech

      As Congress and the Federal Elections Commission explore ways to counter foreign influence in U.S. elections through greater campaign finance disclosures, EFF has filed comments reminding policy makers of the danger of going too far. While the FEC’s goals are understandable, it must take care not to undermine the right of ordinary Americans to speak anonymously about political issues. What we need is transparency from Internet companies about their advertising practices across the board—not laws that strip ordinary people of their constitutional rights and undermine our democratic values.

      For everyday Americans, the Internet offers one the most effective and inexpensive ways to make their voices heard in our nation’s political debate. It’s also a way to do so without fear of retaliation if your voice offers an unpopular view. An LGBTQ individual who is not “out” to their family or employer may fear ostracism, harassment, or threats of violence if they openly purchase a small ad on a social media platform advocating for a candidate who supports federal legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And a conservative person living in a small liberal community may fear social or professional harm if they openly spent a small sum to amplify on social media their support for a conservative local political candidate. But today both people can avoid that retaliation by purchasing these small ads anonymously.1

      The FEC should not prevent that choice. Anonymous speech is a critical component of our online political debate. Not only do we need to protect it, we need to be doing more as a society to bolster the power of those who lack access to resources to make their voices heard.

      What we really need is for Internet companies to provide more transparency regarding the mechanics of how and why all manner of advertisements are targeting them, and to give users greater control over the data collected about them and how it is used.

    • Proposed “Right to Know Act” Would Empower Users of Digital Devices to Decline NYPD Searches

      New York City is considering a range of legislative measures to increase civilian control over the New York Police Department (NYPD). Earlier this year, EFF endorsed the proposed Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act to increase transparency into the NYPD’s acquisition of surveillance technology, such as license plate readers and cell site simulators. Now EFF also supports the proposed Right to Know Act to guard the digital rights of New Yorkers and visitors impacted by so-called “consent” searches of their digital devices during stop and frisks.

      The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department, with global operations and an unfortunately long history of acting outside its authority. Given its size and presence among domestic law enforcement agencies, NYPD policies can set national norms, which are why its abuses—and policies enacted to curtail them—are important not only to New Yorkers but all Americans.

      In New York, the frequency of racially disparate detentions and searches of innocent New Yorkers exploded under an era of “broken windows policing” championed by former police commissioner Bill Bratton. (Bratton also worked in similar capacities in Boston and in Los Angeles, where his record prompted sustained criticism from local residents and communities.) “Broken windows policing” encourages police to aggressively pursue low-level crimes, driving NYPD officers to issue 1.8 million summonses between 2010 and 2015 for quality-of-life misdemeanors and infractions such as public drinking.

    • Twitter’s fight to kill Uncle Sam’s censorship of spying numbers edges closer to victory

      In October 2014, the microblogging and incitement platform filed a lawsuit against the Feds for permission to publish, as part of its government surveillance transparency report, the number of secret court orders it received seeking twits’ data.

      In the US, authorities can slap companies with National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders for information that prohibit recipients from telling anyone about the demand, based on the claim disclosure would harm national security.

    • “Upload A Selfie” — Facebook May Soon Ask For Your Picture To Confirm You’re Not A Robot

      The social networking giant Facebook is testing a new type of captcha to verify your identity. According to a report, the company may soon ask you to upload your picture to prove you’re not a robot.

      As per a screenshot shared on Twitter, this new selfie upload prompt says — “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face.” The prompt also promises to check the picture and permanently erase it from the servers. In a somewhat similar story, Facebook had already suggested asked users to upload their nude photos to fight revenge porn.

    • The Struggles of ‘A Good American’

      A new documentary tells the story of ex-NSA official William Binney and his fight to get the federal bureaucracy to accept an inexpensive system for detecting terrorists while respecting the U.S. Constitution, writes James DiEugenio.

    • Treasury Department Report Shows ComputerCOP Used Bogus Endorsement Letter To Get Police To Distribute Keylogger

      There are enough problems with police these days and how they interact with the public. They shouldn’t be contributing to making computer security worse by handing out dangerous software.

    • Yet Another Legal Action By Dogged Privacy Activist Brings Good News And Bad News For Facebook In EU’s Highest Court

      The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has appeared a few times on Techdirt, as he conducts his long-running campaign to find out what Facebook is doing with his personal data, and to take back control of it. In 2011, he obtained a CD-ROM (remember those?) containing all the information that Facebook held about him at that time. More dramatically, in 2015 Schrems persuaded the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor framework for transferring personal data from the EU to the US was illegal under EU laws because of the NSA’s spying, as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Schrem’s detailed commentary (pdf) on that CJEU judgment explains, the case was specifically about Facebook, although it applied much more generally. Last month, we wrote about another case, currently being referred to the CJEU, concerning Facebook’s use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) (pdf), also known as “model clauses”. It’s an alternative legal approach for transferring data across the Atlantic, and if the CJEU rules against Facebook again, it could make things rather difficult for the big US Internet companies (but ordinary businesses won’t be affected much.)

    • Navy Officer Tried To Use The NSA To Tap Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      A curious Navy officer on deployment in Iraq in 2011 got in hot water with the National Security Agency when she used a top-secret NSA signals intelligence database to snoop on the prepaid-phone habits of boyfriend’s son, according to a just-released, heavily redacted NSA inspector general’s report.

    • NSA Caught Navy Officer Illegally Trying To Pry Into American’s Phone

      A Navy officer stationed in Iraq “deliberately and without authorization” used an NSA database to try to pry into the mobile phone of her boyfriend’s son, according to a top secret NSA inspector general report obtained by BuzzFeed News.

      The 2014 report — one of dozens the NSA just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how the spy agency responded to an instance of illegal surveillance on an American citizen.

      The Navy officer did not access the information on the phone — she was halted by a warning signal. But the inspector general’s report says the officer, whose name was redacted, violated federal regulations and a presidential executive order designed to protect Americans from being spied on by intelligence agencies without a warrant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Good Technology Collective

      The Good Technology Collective (GTC), a new European think-tank addressing ethical issues in technology, will officially open its doors in Berlin on December 15th. The grand opening will kick off at 7:30PM (CET) at Soho House Berlin and I shall be one of the guest speakers.

    • Court Says Cop’s Theft Of Evidence Shouldn’t Have Any Effect On Man’s 15-Year Drug Sentence

      How do we get to 26 kilos from less than a gram of actual cocaine? It happens like this…

      Martin Pena needed money for rent. He agreed to meet some other men at a taqueria to run some sort of an errand for $500. One of the men took Pena’s car and returned with it a short while later. When he returned, there was a black ice chest in Pena’s car. Pena was instructed to drive it to another location and park his vehicle, leaving the keys inside.

      Pena was pulled over by Houston police officers who arrested him for an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded and an inventory search performed. The 26 kilos of “cocaine” in the ice chest were discovered and Pena was convicted of transporting 400 grams of cocaine — enough to trigger a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

    • Uber Waymo Trial Delayed After Justice Department Jumps In, Unprompted, To Tell Judge That Uber Was Withholding Evidence

      So lots of people were gearing up for the Waymo/Uber trial starting next week over Uber’s alleged efforts to get Waymo’s (Google’s self-driving car project) trade secrets. There are a whole bunch of issues around this case that are interesting — from questions involving what really is a trade secret to where the line is between controlling former employees and allowing people to switch jobs within an industry. But… all of that has been completely tossed out the window as more and more evidence piles up that beyond those key legal issues, Uber sure did some shady, shady stuff. This morning, the latest bombshell (in a long line of bombshells) is that the judge has delayed the trial after the Justice Department got involved, totally unprompted. No, really.

    • Oklahoma Looks To Clamp Down On Uninsured Driving With Traffic Cams And Perverse Incentives

      Oklahoma is home to a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Nearly a quarter of the state’s drivers get behind the wheel as latent threats to insured drivers’ insurance rates. The state thinks it’s found a solution to this problem — one that will net a private company and the state’s district attorney offices lots of money.

    • Judge delays trial after ex-Uber employee describes rogue behavior

      US District Judge William Alsup has delayed an upcoming trial, Waymo v. Uber, in which Alphabet’s self-driving car division has accused Uber of massive data theft.

      The postponement came as a former Uber security employee, Richard Jacobs, made startling accusations in court Tuesday about his former colleagues’ tactics of what he dubbed “overly aggressive and invasive” actions, including seeking code accidentally made available on GitHub and internal use of “ephemeral and encrypted” communications including through Wickr and “non-attributable machines.”

    • ‘We, Too, Are Survivors.’ 223 Women in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal

      For years, Comcast has been promising that it won’t violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn’t create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

      This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn’t necessary because ISPs won’t violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump’s FCC

      If you’re a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol’ internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we’ve got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week’s episode looking at Trump’s FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

    • Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support

      Internet users have made it clear to US telecom regulator Ajit Pai that his proposal to scrap net neutrality rules is unpopular with the masses. But with two weeks left before the Federal Communications Commission votes to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai today blamed actress/singer Cher and other celebrities for boosting opposition to his plan.

    • Judge Backs AT&T, Comcast Nuisance Suit Against Google Fiber In Nashville

      There’s numerous methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

      Case in point: Google Fiber recently tried to build new fiber networks in a large number of cities like Nashville and Louisville, but ran face first into an antiquated utility pole attachment process. As it stands, when a new competitor tries to enter a market, it needs to contact each individual ISP to have them move their own utility pole gear. This convoluted and bureaucratic process can take months, and incumbent ISPs (which often own the poles in question) often slow things down even further by intentionally dragging their feet.

    • Comcast throttling BitTorrent was no big deal, FCC says

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently argued that FCC regulation of net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

      Pai’s claim is frequently countered with the actual history of Internet service providers blocking or throttling Internet traffic or applications. The most prominent example is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing. Pai thus had to contend with these real-world examples in his new proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Looking Towards A Retrospective Future

      The Internet hasn’t been healthy for a while. Even with net neutrality rules in the United States, I have my Internet Service Provider neutrally blocking all IPv6 traffic and throttling me. As you can imagine, that now makes an apt update quite a pain. When I have asked my provider, they have said they have no plans to offer this on residential service. When I have raised the point that my employer wants me to verify the ability to potentially work from home in crisis situations, they said I would need to subscribe to “business class” service and said they would happily terminate my residential service for me if I tried to use a Virtual Private Network.

EPO Budget (Users’ Money) Has Been Corrupting Media and Academia

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 12:57:07 AM

Money down the drain, draining everyone’s reputation

Summary: EPO stakeholders (mostly users who apply for European Patents and their renewal) have inadvertently contributed to quite a disease which not only jeopardises the integrity of the Office but also the worth of patents, the integrity of media, and integrity of academia

THE EPO certainly knows how to control the media. The secret? Throw money at the media. Failing that, threaten the media.

The EPO has, for at least a decade, notoriously used IAM for all sorts of propaganda (UPC, patent ‘quality’ etc.) — to the point where IAM now seems to shy away from even covering EPO matters. It’s a sensitive relationship. Well, reposted from IAM earlier today was this article regarding “Deferral Of Examination” at the EPO — a subject previously covered here (when it was posted in IAM’s Web site and the firm’s own). There’s not much to see there because it was composed by UPC and software patents proponents. It’s one big club and litigation is its currency. And speaking of UPC (litigation), recently the EPO had two universities (academia) paid in order to promote the UPC. This means that the EPO moved on from corrupting media to corrupting academia. Some allege that this was done very specifically in order help influence the German courts system regarding the UPC (i.e. against Europe’s interests). “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study,” the EPO wrote today, not quite noting who was behind this so-called ‘study’.

The EPO’s corruption of the media/public outlets, including stacking of panels and manipulation of public debates, is truly troubling. It’s like we’re dealing here with Monsanto/Bayer (a big scandal in Germany about this today), not a public institution.

And speaking of media, watch today’s terrible puff piece from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR). It’s about the interview we’ve mentioned 3 times already (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). They found a way to spin it and this spin was poorly-received (by EPO staff [1, 2]). Regarding the spin on this, one insider said: “Let me guess who’s next in-line publishing a preposterous article about the disturbed situation at the EPO? Perhaps IAM? It would add insult to injury…”

It’s a lot of gross revisionism by those willing to put their name behind their words, i.e. those who suck up to the EPO rather than risk alienation. It’s a salad of supportive words for Battistelli basically; “A spokesperson for the EPO said the office was pleased with the interview,” said the author, “which reflected the “overall support of the Council to the reforms and the acknowledgement of their very positive results, in particular in terms of quality of products and services delivered by the EPO”.”

Incredible! What a bunch of liars. Here is how it started:

Benoît Battistelli’s tenure at the European Patent Office (EPO) has been “undoubtedly positive” but there has been a “heavy-handed approach”, the chairman of the Administrative Council has said.

Christoph Ernst was interviewed in November by legal news website JUVE, which asked him the following question: “The EPO is constantly dogged by infighting between the Council’s management and its staff; the launch of the Unified Patent Court is clouded with uncertainty. The outlook is rather dismal, isn’t it?”

His response was that the situation was “certainly not as bad as that”.

Then starts a series of (almost) compliments to Battistelli. Shame on WIPR for quoting the firm the EPO sent to bully me several times. Here it is:

Joshua Marshall, associate at Fieldfisher, said: “Battistelli’s tenure has not been without its challenges. Many of the issues have been internal in terms of the EPO’s procedures and the staff which it employs.”

They are belittling the issues after Battistelli paid them to literally threaten me and try to silence Techrights (several times in fact, through several members of staff).

The EPO is a sick, sick place. Seeing it from the outside is enough to sicken. One can only imagine how dark and sickening (depressing if not leading to literal illness) it is from the inside. The sickness is infectious and now we have media and academia falling ill, too. The ‘virus’ propagates using stakeholders’ (users’) money and spreads in a fashion that severely undermines Europe’s reputation and European democracy.

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